University of California Berkeley REGIONAL ORAL HISTORY OFFICE Regional Oral History Office The Bancroft Library University of California Berkeley, California Robert W. Ratcliff THE RATCLIFF ARCHITECTS, IN BERKELEY SINCE 1909 VOLUME I With an Introduction by Harold C. Norton Interviews Conducted by Suzanne B. Riess in 1989 Copyright (<T\ 1990 by The Regents of the University of California Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the development of Northern California, the West, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable. ************************************ All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement between The Regents of the University of California and Robert W. Ratcliff dated October 15, 1989. The manuscript is thereby made available for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal agreements with Robert W. Ratcliff requires that he be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: Robert W. Ratcliff, "The Ratcliff Architects, in Berkeley Since 1909, Volume I," an oral history conducted in 1989 by Suzanne B. Riess, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1990. Copy no. 1 THURSDAY, MAY 14, 1998 San Francisco Chronicle Robert Ratcliff Robert W. Ratcliff, for nearly 40 years the leader of a three-gen eration architectural practice re sponsible for numerous notewor thy buildings throughout the Bay Area, died April 30 at Alta Bates Medical Center in Berkeley. He was 85. Born in Berkeley on May 6, 1913, Mr. Ratcliff was the eldest of five children of Walter and Muriel Ratcliff. His father, who was born in England and educated at the University of California at Berke ley, was Berkeley's city architect as well as one of the most prolific designers of the 1920s and 1930s. "Walter Ratcliff was responsi ble for some of the finest public schools in Berkeley," said Chroni cle architecture critic Allan Temko. "His son, Robert, contin ued the humanist tradition, but was essentially a Bay Area mod ernist, who designed gracious resi dences in wood in the Berkeley hills, as well as commercial build ings. Perhaps his most charming work is the Berkeley Art Center in Live Oak Park." Robert Ratcliff was raised at a time when Berkeley was consid ered the "Athens of the West" His parents brought up their children among intellectuals and artists and instilled in then* son a sense of re sponsibility to the community and a love of the outdoors, music and the arts. Mr. Ratcliff attended Berkeley public schools and entered the University of California's School of Architecture. In his junior year, he took a design class with a prom ising young architectural student, Evelyn Trueblood Paine. They married in 1937 and lived together for 60 years until her death last November. Although she did not pursue a career in ar chitecture, she was a frequent col laborator and consultant to the firm on landscape design. After graduation hi 1936, Mr. Ratcliff worked for other archi tects in the Bay Area, and during World War II, he served as assis tant chief engineer for the Central Seabee program in Chicago. After the war, he returned to Berkeley to join his father in de signing urgently needed dormito ries for the University of Califor nia. Throughout Mr. Ratcliff 's ar chitectural career, the university continued to be his client. The firm did numerous renova tion and restoration projects not only on the Berkeley campus but also at UC Santa Cruz, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine and UC San Diego. Mr. Ratcliff continued to prac tice with his father until Walter Ratcliff's retirement in 1955. Schools, banks, churches and city buildings constituted much of the firm's work, as the the younger Ratcliff guided a transformation from the traditional, English-influ enced designs identified with his father's practice to a more contem porary, straightforward style in keeping with the Bay Area designs of the 1950s and 1960s. Well-known projects for which Mr. Ratcliff was senior principal included the Student Health Cen ter at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, the Graduate Student Housing Project in Santa Cruz, the Valley Manor Geriatrics Center in Concord, the Berkeley branch of the Bank of California on Shattuck Avenue, the Students Co-op Build ing on Ridge Road in Berkeley, the Livermore Civic Center Plan and Public Library, the Berkeley Bap tist Divinity School buildings, the California State Automobile Asso ciation offices in Berkeley and Oakland and a large number of schools, commercial buildings and residences. In 1974, Mr. Ratcliff's son Chris topher (Kit) Ratcliff became the third-generation Ratcliff in the firm, and hi 1978, the firm's name was changed to The Ratcliff Archi tects to reflect the expanded own ership. Robert Ratcliff retired from active involvement in the firm in 1983, and in 1986, Kit Rat- cliff was named president Based in Emeryville, The Rat- cliff Architects is the oldest and one of the largest architectural firms in the East Bay. Mr. Ratcliff's involvement with Berkeley remained active throughout his life. He was trea surer of the Berkeley Municipal League, vice chairman of the Berkeley Community Concert As sociation, a board member of the Berkeley YMCA and YWCA advi sory board, chairman of the Coun cil of Social Planning on the Her- rick Hospital Mental Health Advi sory Board, a member of the Board of Permit Appeals and was in volved with the City Commons Club and the Rotary Club. He also gave of his architectur al expertise on several pro bono ef forts, including Berkeley Day Nursery. YWCA, Stiles Hall, the city of Berkeley's sewer commit tee, master plan review, Havens Fountain, Aquatic Park and the re design of University and Shattuck avenues. The Berkeley Chamber of Com merce awarded him the Norman Branguin Award, and in 1979 he won the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Public Service Award. In 1989, Mr. Ratcliff was the subject of an oral history project conducted by the Bancroft Li brary. He is survived by his children, Lucy R. Pope of Philadelphia; Mary R. (Polly) Walter of Victoria, B.C.; Christopher Ratcliff of Berkeley; Alice W. Ratcliff of Red ding; Elizabeth R Austin of Port land, Ore.; and Thomas P. Ratcliff of Berkeley; his brothers Peter of Orinda and Walter of Gualala; his sister, Muriel of Plains, Va.; 16 grandchildren; and three great grandchildren. There will be a memorial gath ering hi Mr. Ratcliff 's honor at 1 p.m. Saturday at the First Congre gational Church, 2345 Channing Way, in Berkeley. Donations in his memory may be made to the Berkeley YMCA, 2016 Center St, Berkeley 94704 or the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Cen tennial Drive, Berkeley 94720. JX. Pimxleur Robert W. Ratcliff, 1966 Vandelet Photographs Cataloguing Information THE RATCLIFF ARCHITECTS, IN BERKELEY SINCE 1909, 1990, viii, 221 pp. Robert W. Ratcliff (b. 1913) interviewed on family history and life in Berkeley, 1920s, 1930s; trips to Sierra; father, Walter Harris Ratcliff, Jr., architect: working philosophy, peers, Bernard Maybeck, the craftsman tradition, East Bay work for schools, banks, and banking interests; family social and musical life, Mendocino County homes; Robert Ratcliff and Evelyn (Paine) Ratcliff: UC School of Architecture, 1936; European tour, Alameda Naval Base, and Seabees, WWII; Ratcliff, Haymond and Ratcliff, 1945, and Ratcliff, Slama and Cadwalader, 1961: UC Berkeley work, Alameda County, hospital, other University work; interest in City of Berkeley social planning, master planning, waterfront, Panoramic Hill; The Ratcliff Architects, 1978, management, traditions. Introduction by Harold C. Norton, Executive Director, Alameda County Bar Association. Interviewed 1989 by Suzanne B. Riess. The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. TABLE OF CONTENTS -- Robert W. Ratcliff INTRODUCTION by Harold C. Norton INTERVIEW HISTORY ' BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION vil I ROBERT RATCLIFF' S FAMILY 1 Daily Life in Berkeley 55 Roble Road 4 Summers and Sierra Trips Building a Canoe Mother's Family, the Williams Side Father's Englishness, the Ratcliff Side Forsaking the Academic for the Out-of-Doors 15 Skiing, for Example The Berkeley Fire Siblings, Brother Peter Ratcliff 19 II WALTER HARRIS RATCLIFF, JR., ARCHITECT 21 Chemistry Major, University of California Association with Louis McFarland, and Building Houses The Legacy for Robert Ratcliff 24 A Citizen of Berkeley . 27 The Sierra, and the Berkeley Hills, and John Muir John Galen Howard, and the Hearst Mining Building A "Gentle Man" 33 Locating the Ratcliff Office in Berkeley, 1909 34 Learning by Doing Architectural Associates and Influences Sources for Styles, Books and Travels 39 Developing Clients ^1 The Ratcliff Office, a Steppingstone from Architecture School 42 Ill W. H. RATCLIFF, JR., ESTABLISHED, 1920s 44 Berkeley's City Architect, 1914, and His Vision of the City 44 The Architect as Master of the Building Trades 45 Thoughts on Maybeck, Gutterson, Thomas, Howard, Bakewell, and Brown 47 Downtown Berkeley Contacts, and the Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco 52 Excellence in Materials, Plaster Work 54 Swedes and Italians, and the Craftsman Tradition 56 Walter Steilberg, Friend and Neighbor 59 Social Life and Musical Life 60 Remodeling the House on Roble Road, and Creating a Museum 63 Planning, Zoning, and Burying Creeks 66 "To Go Beyond Oneself" 68 Site Work and Landscaping 70 American Trust Company Building, 1925 72 W. H. Ratcliff, Jr., On the Job 74 The Talent in Office 77 Mills College Work 78 A Family Country House in Mendocino County, 1925 79 Solvent in the Depression 82 IV ROBERT W. RATCLIFF' S STUDENT YEARS, MARRIAGE, AND WAR YEARS 83 [Interviewed by Christopher Ratcliff, December 1987] Entering Cal , and the Agility Test, 1932 83 Entering Architecture, and Taking a Course in Public Speaking 84 Evelyn Paine, Architecture Student 86 Coursework in Architecture and Art 87 Memories of Benny Bufano 89 Evelyn and Bob, Meeting and Dating 90 The Harley-Davidson 93 Meeting the Families 94 The "Clubby" Department of the Early 1930s 97 [Interviewed by the Regional Oral History Office] 98 A Member of the Order of the Golden Bear 98 Attempting to Change the Architecture Department Curriculum 100 Stiles Hall and Campus Politics 102 European Tour and Architectural Influences 103 Finding a Job--Mayhew and Masten and Hurd 107 Telesis 112 Alameda Naval Base- -Salvaging a Dredge 114 Chicago, Naval Procurement: Seabees 117 Life in Chicago for Evelyn and Bob 122 Building the House on Panoramic Way in Berkeley, 1941 124 V RATCLIFF, RAYMOND & RATCLIFF, 1945 125 Fernwald Hall and Some Troubling Conclusions 125 A Healthy Savings Institution, and Fidelity's Home Loan Policy 131 Scott Haymond, and Revamping the Office 133 The Legacy of Church Architectural Work 134 Residential Work, the Fourth Dimension and the Client 136 Ratcliff & Ratcliff, 1953- -The Pacific School of Religion 140 The Off ice- -Interviewing Draftsmen, 1950s 143 Murray Slama and Burns Cadwalader 144 Jules Kliot, and the Round Firehouse on The Alameda 145 Reflections on Bringing in "New Guys" 148 The Impetus to Suceed Financially 149 Berkeley and UC Friends, and the Flow of Work- -Sororities 150 Good Communication with Clients 153 One Man's "Comfort"- -Interiors 155 VI DOWNTOWN BERKELEY 157 Berkeley Municipal League- -Cross for Mayor 157 Council of Social Planning and the Problem Populations 159 Environment Shaping Lives 162 Citizen Involvement, Stiles Hall and the Community Y 164 Lester Hink 165 Permit Appeals Board and Building Codes 166 Panoramic Hill Improvement Association, Road Committee 168 City Commons Club, and Herb Zuckerman 172 Business Lunches and Service Clubs 173 Service- -Murray and Burns and AIA Involvement 174 Berkeley Master Planning, and UC's Growth 175 The Waterfront Committee, and a Proposal for a New Berkeley 177 Aquatic Park and the Entrance to Berkeley 180 Other Pro Bono Work for the City 182 The Group, and !Men9.04 183 VII RATCLIFF, SLAMA & CADWALADER, 1961 187 Incorporation 187 Working for Alameda County 188 Contractors and Architects, and Murray's Contribution 192 A Talent for Working with Staff and with Clients Highland Hospital Mistakes, Honorable Men, and Insurance Environmentally Conscious Practice vs. the Competitive World University of the Pacific- -Unfinished Business UC Berkeley, a Different Matter- -Remodelling 205 UC Santa Cruz, and the Landscape Architects 206 Strong Designers and Project Teams at The Ratcliff Architects 208 Management, Principals, and Partners Architecture Offices and Fledgling Architects Publishing and Promoting the Firm's Work 213 Tradition and The Ratcliff Architects 214 TAPE GUIDE 216 INDEX 217 ILLUSTRATIONS following pp. 20, 73, and 186. INTRODUCTION by Harold C. Norton My first recollection of Robert Ratcliff, although I may have met him earlier, is a visit to a crowded, busy and friendly office on Fulton Street in Berkeley. It was shared by others, but I do not remember whom, nor do I remember the purpose of my visit, as I was too impressed by the cordiality and warmth of the man I had come to see. That first impression has never changed. To me, Bob will always be a man of warmth, trust, and friendliness, and not the least, a man of infectious good humor . From that early encounter, our relationship grew. Earlier his father, Walter, and I had on several occasions become parties in property negotiations. I approached each meeting with trepidation, recognizing the experience and prestige of my adversary. We used many ploys and devices to gain advantage, which greatly amused Bob. We learned each other's strengths and techniques, and in the end, reached foregone results. From these sessions came an abiding respect and an affection for each other which served as a stepping stone to my lasting and steadfast friendship with Bob and with Evelyn, who is so dear and supportive. These feelings are shared by my entire family. We have been fortunate in our relationship, business and social, for we came to know all of the Ratcliff family. Many memories now surface, far too many to include. There were visits to the "ranch" in Mendocino with our families, the games we played around the roaring fire, the cold nights in the dormitory, the serenity of the forest where young Kit taught me how to fell a tree, the eagerness and vigor with which Bob pushed our car with his and climbed on the back of it to brand it forever. Then there were the weddings, one where our Rory was part of the musical quartet, first on Roble Road in that beautiful home designed by Walter and so appropriate for an architectural family, and the festivities which followed where one of the young swains (fiance of Bob and Evelyn's daughter, Polly), in his eagerness to catch the coveted garter landed in the fountain. And there was the equally lovely wedding of our daughter at our home, for which Bob and Evelyn supplied all of the champagne and brought multitudes of plants to embellish the outdoor setting. Evelyn returned at 6:00 o'clock the next morning, saying that ii if we kept them longer, they would perish forever. A testament to our green thumbs . I must reveal that Bob tried to make me into an amateur architect and contractor. The need arose to reconstruct a portion of our home. Never having undertaken a task of that magnitude, 1 sought Bob's advise. He gave it without hesitation, led me through the labyrinthine problems and was as proud as I when the job, no small undertaking, was successfully completed, accomplished with only a hand saw, hammer, square, level and a simple screwdriver. I should also mention our exploration of the underground creeks of Berkeley (actually, there was only one, my memory makes one hyperbolize) with flashlights and other appropriate gear. We approached the enterprise with interest and sharp curiosity, and we were not disappointed. We believed that we had traversed half the distance to the bay, but in reality, it was only about two city blocks. We learned something about our city which is special, known only to the few; the experience we shared added to our bond of companionship. Robert Ratcliff is part of an architectural family that spans three generations. In addition, he is part of the great architectural heritage for which Berkeley is famous. He deserves inclusion in that heritage. But beyond his professional accomplishments, he must be recognized for his unstinting and outstanding labor to preserve and improve the beauty and graciousness of Berkeley. His efforts have been given expertly, freely, and without hesitation. His receipt of the Benjamin Ide Wheeler Award was fitting, a modest acknowledgement of his multitude of civic contributions. Finally, he is a man of integrity, dignity and understanding, devoted to his family and dedicated to his principles. To me, who has spent so many years with Bob and whose families have become so much a part of each other and who has shared so many goals and aspirations with him, he has been a constant challenge and inspiration in our search for a better life. I am proud to be included in this tribute to a deserving colleague and one whom I consider a kindred spirit and a cherished friend. Oakland, California Harold C. Norton, Executive Director May 31, 1990 Alameda County Bar Association iii INTERVIEW HISTORY Today, 1990, the name Ratcliff Architects is well-known in Berkeley and the Bay Region. Seventy years ago, in 1920, it was every bit as well known. Ratcliff architects have been designing schools, hospitals, and residences since Walter H. Ratcliff, a graduate of the University of California whose architectural education took the form of travel, and study at the British School in Rome, and working with John Galen Howard, opened his office in 1909. From 1914 to 1920 Walter Ratcliff was Berkeley's City Architect, a time when the enlightened university town built four new public schools. In 1925 he designed the East Bay's first high rise, now the Wells Fargo Building, which rose above Berkeley's Shattuck Avenue in solitary splendor and remained the dominant office building on the downtown landscape for twenty-five years. Robert W. Ratcliff was the second Ratcliff to become an architect. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley's School of Architecture. After graduation in 1936 he worked for other architects in the Bay Area, until the Depression put them effectively out of business. During World War II he served an enlightening apprenticeship at the supply end of the Seabee operation in Chicago. In 1945, at the war's close, he came back to Berkeley to join his father, and Scott Haymond, designing urgently-needed dormitories for the University of California. He and his wife Evelyn had, by then, three children, and the house they had built in 1941 on Panoramic Road in Berkeley was awaiting their return. The school dormitory work was an important beginning: throughout Robert Ratcliff 's architectural career the University continued to be his client. Berkeley campus renovation and restoration strengthened the reputation of the firm for fine institutional buildings- -Walter Ratcliff had done Mills College's general plan, and nine buildings on the campus, including the Music Building and the Art Gallery and studios; the May T. Morrison Library at UC Berkeley; the library and administration building at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley; and extensive work at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. What Robert Ratcliff took on for the University didn't stop at Berkeley; Ratcliff architects did work for UC Santa Cruz, UC San Francisco, and in 1987 for both UC Irvine and UC San Diego. iv Robert Ratcliff practiced with his father until Walter Ratcliff's retirement in 1955. Schools, banks, churches, and city buildings loom large in their list of accomplishments. Residential commissions were notable both for their ownership a list of Berkeley's town and gown clientele- -and their comfortable design. In 1961 the firm was incorporated as Ratcliff, Slama and Cadwalader when associates Murray Slama and Burns Cadwalader were brought into partnership. They had their office on Grove Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way) on the Berkeley- Oakland border. The building was expanded across the border, giving them two city addresses, and that expansion came in part because they had a reputation, with associates Syed V. Husain and Don Kasamoto and Peter Gray Scott, for excellence in hospital work that brought in commissions from the far reaches of California. Robert W. Ratcliff is the subject of this oral history. His stamp is on the firm today. His guidance and his principles have brought the firm intact through the competitive decades of the fifties, sixties, and seventies. The town and gown connections of Robert Ratcliff, mentioned earlier, are in the nature and duty of being a citizen, as far as he is concerned. No matter what his work, he would be "involved" with his community. He and his wife Evelyn Paine Ratcliff are Berkeley-born and educated. They have never yearned to be anywhere else, and they have been in every way supportive of Berkeley as it was, and as it is, and as it might be. This involvement with Berkeley has always been active. Robert Ratcliff was treasurer of the Berkeley Municipal League, vice-chairman of the Berkeley Community Concert Association, a board member of the Berkeley YMCA and of the Berkeley YWCA advisory board, chairman of the Council of Social Planning, on the Herrick Hospital Mental Health Advisory Board, the Board of Permit Appeals, chairman of the Road Committee of the Panoramic Improvement Association, a member of the City Commons Club, and the Rotary Club. He lent his expertise to the city's Redevelopment Committee, and his support to Save the Bay, Teles is, Save- the-Redwoods, Gun Control, Nature Conservancy, etc., as well as musical groups . Robert Ratcliff's list of architectural pro bono work is in the same spirit: Berkeley Day Nursery, YWCA, YMCA, Stiles Hall, the City of Berkeley's sewer committee, master plan review, Havens fountain, BART reconstruction, permit appeals board, waterfront planning, Aquatic Park, Friends of the Library, and the redesigning of University and Shattuck Avenues. In the Introduction to the oral history Harold C. Norton has testified to the civic-minded side of Robert Ratcliff, as well as to the family-minded side, with telling anecdotes. The Ratcliff s believe in family. The Ratcliff Architects is a family firm. The office gave two housewarming parties at their newest, largest location, 5856 Doyle Street, Emeryville, April 1, 1990. One party was for all the architects and staff and their families. It was a picnic with good food, a performing pig and its trainer to entertain the children, balloons, a pianist, and generations of good will. The principals wore silver baseball jackets declaring them The Ratcliff Architects . Following the earlier lead of Walter and Muriel Ratcliff, Bob and Evelyn Ratcliff have made Mendocino County a second home. The Ratcliff children, Lucy Jay Ratcliff Pope, Mary Trueblood Ratcliff Walter, Christopher Paine Ratcliff, Alice Williams Ratcliff, Elizabeth Muriel Ratcliff Austin, and Thomas Trueblood Ratcliff are providing a new generation of family to go to Mendocino. The group of men friends (discussed in the oral history) banded together under the rubric 1MEN9.04 meet up there too. This oral history with Robert Ratcliff is planned as the first of several volumes with the principals of The Ratcliff Architects- -the name the firm took in 1978. (Christopher Ratcliff, another graduate of the University of California's School of Architecture, is the third generation of Ratcliffs in the firm.) Our intention is to study from several points of view the phenomenon of such a successful three - generation architectural practice that grew from Walter Ratcliffs one- man office doing business on a handshake to a partnership protected by the complicated written agreements necessary today in a profession so vulnerable to litigation. Environmental concerns were a focus when Walter Ratcliff, and Robert after him, argued for creeks and open space, but now it takes the form of extremely complex and time-consuming Environmental Impact Studies. I first met Robert and Evelyn Ratcliff in 1974 when I interviewed them about Walter Steilberg for Volume One of the Julia Morgan Architectural History Project (Regional Oral History Office, 1976). Our more recent round of meetings began in November 1988 when I went to the Ratcliffs house at 74 Panoramic Road to discuss the proposed Ratcliff Architects Oral History Project. When Bob agreed to the interviews he outlined his feelings about how the business had changed. He felt it was valuable to discuss those changes. He also set to work to make notes on the highlights of his life and work, and of his father's life and work. The interviews began in April 1989 and we taped in April, May, and June. Excerpts from transcripts of some five hours of video-taped family history conversations Christopher Ratcliff has done with his parents are edited into the interviews, where indicated. Bob Ratcliff edited the oral history extensively. He had been well-prepared for the interviews, but he was often surprised at the turn a question would take. He was concerned that he had put his thoughts together in an unclear manner, so he eliminated much that he deemed rambling. When the editing was over he gathered for us a great group of photographs to use as illustrations. vi The photographs, introducing as they do the other partners and the sense of the team, bring up again our intention of doing a further volume of interviews with The Ratcliff Architects. For now we are very pleased to present the first look at the success story of The Ratcliff Architects. In Berkeley Since 1909. Thanks to Robert and Evelyn Ratcliff and to the firm of The Ratcliff Architects for being enthusiastic about this project, to Harold Norton for joining in so eloquently with his Introduction, and to J. R. K. Kantor for the knowledgeable proofreading that only a Panoramic Road resident and ex-University Archivist could have done. The Regional Oral History Office was established to tape record autobiographical interviews with persons who have contributed significantly to recent California history. The office is headed by Willa K. Baum and is under the administrative supervision of James D. Hart, the director of The Bancroft Library. Berkeley, California Suzanne B. Riess, Senior Editor June 20, 1990 Regional Oral History Office vii Regional Oral History Office University of California Room 486 The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 94720 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION (Please write clearly. Use black ink.) Your full name t ?7 fc~T V//H- L. / AvA/ c. lATC Date of birth A^A V L K\ I "5 _ Birthplace H fZ^ f^T I ~T~ Father's full name JUA^-f^r^ 4 />. it^t S, Occupation /\ j^c H i~T & L -\ _ Birthplace Mother's full name U t' L i IZ U iUi^i^tt>U^ Occupation t-^r c; > is. UJ i P t^ _ Birthplace & fft, t Your spouse Your children ^L'^W .7>/V > MA g.<. ? (ji) A ( -ft< & , ~ LL?. Y-f(-( L L'l f? f ^ Li~?ffiPL'-(ft yft 1 5 p /vJ . T^fe^M ^> 17 Where did you grow up? 7^&j/^g"L/=- u, _ (A/ ^ _ _,-_ Present community . . Education '^fliTL ^^** A ft Occupation(s) Atf-/' Areas of expertise r'^^T&Z Y/Jt?t^ / ^lOCZUC I O Al Other interests or activities J 7 Organizations in which you are active (j -t^ ^ A viii Regional Oral History Office Room 486 The Bancroft Library University of California Berkeley, California 94720 BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION Your full name Date of (Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 'ixlJL * To \ C \\H ^Wr v> ' , 's full name \ \ tA^^>X \i (X/W\X. * \* * ' L - \ ciAluW t Jillwvwvl Father ' Occupation Birthplace_ Mother's full name Occu Birthplace_ Your spouse Your AjlJi \ ^> VAAA* (V:\V V)(>S\V \\ M )L fWvV.v>k \i rv\gvJ\AA,v Where did you grow up? Present community Q/> Education 1 ) ,[ o A . \> Occupation (s] Areas of expertise /^f /X.^S Aj^( < K^,^ ^g Other interests or activities Organizations in which you are active ( n ,yi M\ _ yv\ fe-l A A A>v?7xt M^V . w Riess: I FAMILY LIFE [Interview 1: April 12, 1989 ]//# Daily Life in Berkeley Please describe your parents to me? First, your father. Robert Ratcliff: Well, he was a hundred and sixty- five pounds. I don't think he changed his weight at all. He was in very good physical condition all his life, and he never suffered from arthritis or any problems of that sort, whatever. He was always quite active. When he was young, he was a very good tennis player. He and May Sutton were the mixed doubles champions of the Pacific Coast. They played against Little Bill Johnson, who was then the world's champion, with another lady- -mixed double championship. He was interested in showing us how, so we used to go down on Sunday morning and play tennis at the Berkeley Tennis Club. We started at a fairly young age and had really a wonderful time. I always looked forward to that, those were really great mornings. Helen Wills moved in next door to us at the time when she was the world's champion, so that was further incentive, and, on top of that, she gave me a tennis racket. Old Dr. Wills gave us all her old balls, which had only been used for one set, probably. They were very good balls, so we never bought any tennis balls. ////This symbol indicates that a tape or a segment of a tape has begun or ended. For a guide to the tapes see page 216. Riess: Robert Ratcliff : Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: It was really kind of a nice beginning. We also took long walks every Sunday. Where would you walk? Well, we walked up the Sacramento Short Line tracks up to Montclair, and then we'd walk up to the top of Grizzly Peak and along the road which they were then building. The Grizzly Peak road was built by the WPA, Works Progress Administration, trying to stimulate some activity during the thirties. It was a pick- and- shovel job. There were about a hundred people digging that road up there. Then we'd walk back down to Roble Road. It took us two and a half hours, maybe, three hours. It was a long walk. We went pretty quickly, about three or four miles per hour. It was an exercise. And was Pete on those walks? Was Pete? the team. Sure. My mother, Pete, and I were usually The whole family? Well, no, there were two daughters, too. One of them, my sister Muriel, also went on the walks occasionally, but she wasn't as regular as the rest of us were. My mother also didn't feel that my sisters were up to it, somehow. She didn't equate boys and girls. She thought boys were stronger, better, and more active. My parents were sort of project-oriented people. My mother was physically very strong and very much involved in family business. She didn't go to college. As a matter of fact, she got married when she was twenty years old, in 1912. She was interested in all sorts of activities, and she was very interested in the family and very supportive of everything that we attempted to do. We always had projects, and she was always there. I used to claim we were one of the first two-car families in Berkeley. She drove her wagon, this four- wheeled cart, pulled by a pony, Tommy, a Hungarian pony. My father had a Model T Ford. So we used to go shopping This paragraph and others marked [C.R.] incorporate conversations videotaped with his parents by Christopher Ratcliff in December 1985. Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: in it. She drove us to school. We used to go on trips on the weekends in this great thing. We went out to Alameda to Cottage Baths. There used to be several of these sorts of recreation parks along the south coast of Alameda. How did you get across to Alameda? It was about an hour's trip over. We went across on a bridge. There used to be a bridge that went across where the tube is now. We'd go there with our pony cart and with our friends, all the way from Berkeley. It was really fun. We would take our lunch along and have lunch at this place and swim. It had a swimming pool, and we also could swim in the bay. The bay was kind of muddy, but it was warm. It was very nice. There was a beach there . Alameda was a fine place in the early days, a very comfortable place to live. If you hadn't been driven to school, how would you get to school? Was it a long walk? Oh, we walked. We went to John Muir, so it was half a mile away, and then we went to Willard. We skated most of the time. We used to have roller skates, and roller- skating was a big deal in those days. What would be a typical day in your family, when you were younger? [C.R.] Well, I guess I'd probably take a day when I was at Willard School, when I was probably oh, old enough to remember. My father would go to work. He had a Buick automobile at that time. I would skate to school. We were a couple of miles from school, and we used to roller-skate a great deal. That was another thing that my mother was great on. She liked roller-skating. We used to go down to Idora Park in Oakland and roller- skate quite a bit. We got to be fairly good on roller skates, so roller-skating to school was a very easy roll right down the middle of Tunnel Road. There were very few cars . We got to school, Willard School. My brother Pete was at John Muir. But then the next year, Pete and I would both skate down to Willard. We'd have lunch there, play handball usually during the lunch hour. 4 Evelyn Ratcliff : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: We had some great teachers: Bessie Maine, and Minnie Maine, and-- And then Miss Smirl, who was still teaching when our children went to Willard. Smirl, yeah, who later became Mrs. Ivelsky, taught us Spanish. Miss Christie, who taught English. She was a wild woman. She called the boys, "man." She'd say, "Man, stand up!" and "What did you say, man?!" It was really an interesting time. We had a very good manual training course, and we had a very good science teacher. I remember those classes very well. We usually came home in the afternoon, and there were a lot of young people in the neighborhood who would get together and have a baseball game or something of that kind. You didn't come home and do homework? I was not a terribly good student. I wasn't exactly browbeaten by my parents to be a great student. 1 did some homework, yes, I remember that was painful. You did homework at night, not in the afternoon? That's right, at night, not in the afternoon. Actually, that was probably one of the priorities that was screwed up, but in the afternoons we mostly enjoyed ourselves, either riding horses, which we had- -there were two of them at that time- -or playing baseball, or doing something of that kind. On the weekends, my mother always had something planned. She was just a marvelous entertainer, [end C.R.] 55 Roble Road Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You said that you lived between two farms. Yes, we did. We lived between Heimbolt and McDuffie, and McDuffie had an Italian gardener named George Celestra who actually came from Sicily. We got milk from Heimbolt in the morning and Celestra in the afternoon. We used to have problems because the milk always came in glass bottles in those days, and we'd get confused and give Celestra Heimbolt 's bottles. Then Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: there would be a big war. We'd have to get together and straighten out the bottle situation. A matter of great diplomacy, yes. That took a certain amount of diplomacy, [laughter] Now that must have been open land then, and it's since become very treed over, hasn't it? It was pretty open, yes. Our property ran from Tunnel Road down to Roble Road. We were at 55, which was at the end of the developed part of Roble Road. The road has now been developed further into Oakland, but that was actually the Oakland line. There were no houses between us and the corner where Tunnel and Roble met. The Nickerson house my father designed about a year after he designed our house. Our house was built in 1914. McDuffie owned the property on the west side of Roble Road. It was open then, and then they developed Roble Court, a city street, so I guess the city probably developed it. I'm sure McDuffie was involved because he, I think, was in charge of the development of Claremont, originally. He and Mason of Mason-McDuffie. The story went that as part of his fee he took all the land between The Uplands and Roble Road and the Oakland line and Tunnel Road. It's a trapezoid of land, I don't know how many acres, but I would assume it's maybe twenty -five acres of land, maybe more than that. McDuffie's house was on Tunnel Road between Roble and The Uplands. He sold the corner of The Uplands to Henry Swift, who was married to my mother's older sister. They built a house in there in the orchard. Did your father invest in land? Not in Berkeley. Did he rue that fact later? I don't think he everwell, that's not quite true. He invested in some stores out on Solano Avenue. He bought some property and designed about five stores, about half a block long. Riess: Where on Solano? Robert Ratcliff: I have to go and look it up myself. It's on the north side of the street, not as far down as Key Route Boulevard. I'll have to get a map and look it up. It's in the middle of Solano Avenue, approximately. Anyway, he had bought and designed that, and held that, and as a matter of fact, it was in his will after he died. And he bought a building which became a co-op rooming house on Ridge Road. I can't think of any other property in Berkeley that he owned. He wasn't very big on buying real estate and owning a lot of real estate. The major real estate he bought was at a place up in Mendocino County. He bought four hundred acres up there and expanded it to about a thousand acres later. Summers and Sierra Trips Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: You went in summer to Inverness in Marin County? Before my parents owned a country place, we used to explore around. We went to Inverness a number of times. Hy mother had gone there when she was a child, and she knew a lot of the people there. It was very comfortable, very easy to get to. We went to Clear Lake a couple of times. When I was very young, we went up to a little camp, which Maybeck designed, maybe half a mile beyond the end of Fallen Leaf Lake . You would pack yourselves in to it? Robert Ratcliff: Yes, you had to pack your way in, and even today there are only trails. You have to walk in. From there we went up into Desolation Valley and camped in Desolation Valley. We have photographs of my brother, Pete, and me on a donkey, going up this trail, and other photographs of our camp. It probably wasn't a very long trip, but it was one of our first mountaineering experiences, and I still feel as though I can remember it, although I'm not really clear- -perhaps remembering what I've been told. I've seen the photographs, so I know what it looked like. [C.R.] Another thing which happened at that time, or along in the twenties, was trips to the Sierras. We knew the Hildebrand family, Alex and Louise and Milton and Roger. They took trips into the mountains with donkeys every year, and they invited us, Pete and me, to go with them and Dana Raymond and John Adams, and occasionally other people. We took these wonderful trips into the Sierra, to the Kings River and to the Kern River, and to the Mount Whitney area, and the upper regions of the San Joaquin River, some of the best parts of the Sierra. Those were just wonderful trips. We had an enormously good time doing that. Later, during college, I went on two winter mountaineering trips. The first was an attempt to climb Mount Lyell in the wintertime, between Christmas and New Year's, with four Sierra Club fellows: Bestor Robinson, Louis Clark, Einer Nilsson and Oliver Kirlein. We never actually made it, but we had a wonderful time. Storms came up, and we were just not brave enough to risk our lives against the storm, so we turned back. I was a junior in college when eight of us attempted to climb Mount Waddington, which is in British Columbia. The south peak had never been climbed, and we actually didn't climb it either. Bestor Robinson led that trip. We rented two airplanes to fly us north, to the end of Knight Inlet, where the Franklin River comes in, and then spent two weeks attempting to climb the mountain. We never made it. But it was a very exciting trip. Building a Canoe Robert Ratcliff : We had a shop at Roble Road, which was a wonderful place to make things. We got excited about making a canoe one time. Pop said, "Well, you can't do it unless you first make a drawing." So we got a roll of wallpaper, I think it was, about three feet wide. We decided the canoe should be eighteen feet long. So we rolled it out in the living room and made this full-sized drawing of a canoe. Pop came home, looked at it, and said, "Well, don't you think that's a little bit long?" [laughter] So he folded it over and cut ten feet out of the middle. We had an eight-foot canoe. It was to be made of barrel staves and a cedar frame put together with brass screws. We got the idea from a popular science magazine. It was a pretty good little design. I'm sure we couldn't have come up with anything quite that good at that age. In any case, Pete and I made this thing out of barrel staves. We steamed them, and bent them to the right shape, and then screwed them all together. That little canoe has held together very well. Here it is, 1989, and it's still going. I think we built it probably in 1923 or 1924. Probably 1923. That makes it sixty-six years old and still going pretty well. After we finished, we took it up to Inverness. We'd paddle it down from Brock Schreiber's Wharf, down to Shell Beach and back. My would run along the coast, looking out to see if she could see us . I remember one day it was rough, and she was pretty excited, because half the time we were out of sight between the waves. We had a great time with it. That was one of the greater things we built, [end C.R.] Mother's Family, the Williams Side Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Your mother was an outdoorsy person? bit about her family. Tell me a little Well, her mother's family name was Caduc. family came from France . Her mother's How did they come to California? Do you know? I don't know how the Caducs got here. She married Harry Williams, who was Welsh. His father came over in a boat, and he arrived in San Francisco in 1848. They settled in San Francisco. He didn't go to the Gold Rush. He did other things. I don't know exactly how vigorous a man he was. At first, I thought he was a sea captain, and then later we discovered that he wasn't. He was probably the second mate . In about 1925, when a building was being built over in San Francisco, they dug down and discovered the *Mrs. Walter Ratcliff 's children called her "My." remains of an old boat, and it turned out to be the boat his father had come over on. [C.R.] I remember in about 1924 when he invited us to go with him on a trip out to the pilot boat. His father having been a sailor, Grandpa Williams fancied himself as quite a sailor, and because his father-in-law was the first president of the Corinthian Yacht Club, and first head of the Bar Pilot Association, Grandpa knew a lot of pilots and a lot of captains . He also was introduced to other people who were shipowners. This year, he was going around world on an Isthmian boat called the Steel Exporter. He was given the captain's cabin, and he invited us to go with him on this boat out to the pilot boatx and with a pilot friend of his get off and stay overnight and come back. It was a very exciting experience. Grandpa Williams was staying at Cloyne Court with his mother, our great -grandmother, whom we called "Best Grandma" . On Sundays he used to walk over and have lunch with us, at Roble Road. He introduced us to his favorite dish, which was baked potato smothered with onions. He thought that was the greatest, [end C.R.] Our great -grandmother came to California on a covered wagon on the southern route , to S*> Diego and then to San Francisco. Her name was Teret-a Gillis. She came from South Carolina. She married Harry Williams who was quite a bit older than she was, and they lived in San Francisco and built a four- story house, with a cupola on top, on the corner of Sacramento and Octavia. It was right across from the little park on top of the hill. It escaped the fire and became a relief center during the 1906 fire and earthquake, because of its location and because there were two great big water tanks in the top floor. The park was filled with homeless people. There was water for drinking and cooking and a house right there. It became a center for people who were burned out. My mother experienced all of this and had many stories to tell. She was born in 1892, so she was then in 1906 fourteen years old. She really had a very clear memory of the time. Now back to Cora Caduc, my grandmother. She was sort of an au pair for Mrs. Moss. Mr. and Mrs. Moss owned what is now called Mosswood Park, in Oakland. She worked and helped Mrs. Moss, before she married Harry Williams. Mr. Moss got sick. Actually, I think he had cancer, so they decided he should go back to Paris to get medical help with the idea that he would return very quickly. But he didn't come back. Then Mrs. Moss 10 Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: decided she had better go over to see how he was getting along. By this time my grandparents had gotten married. People went to Paris for medical care? Well, they did, because I think that was where they had come from, originally. So France was the place they thought would be the best. They offered this place to my grandparents to rent , to maintain while they were gone. It was a very low rent, with the provision that they would keep the upstairs maid and the downstairs maid and the gardener and the coachman and all this staff intact, so that the team would not get lost. So my mother grew up in Mosswood Park, in the old Moss house, with all these amenities, and went to Anna Head School shortly after it began. She had three sisters and a brother, and the three sisters all went to Anna Head School of Berkeley. She was instantly elevated into landed gentry. In a way, yes. But they had a lot of money, because my great-grandfather Williams made a lot of money during the Gold Rush period. Jim Gillis, his wife's brother, was a partner of Mark Twain up at Jackass Hill, in Tuolumne County. A partner in what? Well, in a company which transported goods to the miners. They had this pack train that took stuff up to Jackass Hill near Sonora. First of all, Williams got started doing this with a fellow in Chico, and then-- well , I'll have to brush up on my memory on this , on the background, because I haven't prepared to do that. We could add it as a note . generation. I should leap to the next The Gillis family is prominent in the east and in South Carolina. This led to a very interesting connection. My mother used to think that Mark Twain was a dirty old man. He came in with all of his chewing tobacco and cigars, and smoke and, I guess, spat and missed the spittoons, which probably were not too well-placed. When Jim Gillis and Mark Twain came to the house, or Uncle Jim, as she called him, there were just a stream of stories. These people were storytellers, and they 11 invented and exaggerated these stories to the point where they became very interesting and a lot of fun, she remembers all of that as part of her background. and Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: They grew up in Mosswood Park, and then they later moved to Berkeley. Her background was always filled with a lot of horses and dogs and animals, and that sort of thing. She came with a great feeling for that, for having animals in the house, which has carried over. As a matter of fact, it carried over to our generation, I guess. We had almost as many animals as she had, in this house, with our children. She went to the University? She didn't go to the University. She graduated from the Head School, and then she got married to my father. I see. Where did he meet her? Well, he was a Berkeley guy. He had graduated. Oh, yes, and he was quite a bit older, because he graduated in 1903, and he was born in '81, so he was eleven years older than she. She was at Anna Head School when he met her. He had already graduated from the University. That's not part of the family lore, the first meeting? No, but part of the family lore is that they went back and forth to Bolinas in those days for overnight and weekend trips. They went on boats from San Francisco to Bolinas, and the Jenny Griffin was the boat on which my father proposed to my mother, on the way to Bolinas. There were two boats that went back and forth to Bolinas, and they took all the food back and forth. It was too hard to go over these mountains. It was so easy by boat. You just had to get around the potato patch [shoals] and you were there. There were two boats, the Owl and the Jenny Griffin , that used to make regular trips back and forth to Bolinas. They knew everybody in Bolinas as well. Two of my mother's sisters and their families lived in Marin County. They owned almost half the Little Mesa at one Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: 12 time, in Bolinas. They were early settlers over there. They didn't live there, but they went there for vacations . Scott Newhall describes people in Bolinas having automobiles when they were fourteen and dashing around, and having boats and endless house parties, people coming for a day and staying for a week, or for a week and staying for a year. He moved in that crowd, I guess. Well, the crowd my mother moved in was a pretty well-heeled crowd, a lot of them from San Francisco and Mar in County. My mother's sister, Corona, married Berrien Anderson, whose father was the president of the Bank of California, who was a very wealthy guy. I don't know exactly how many people there were between him and Ralston, but not probably too many, because he was pretty far back. Corona is a surprising name, isn't it? Her name is Beatrice Corona, actually. We always called her Corona, but her first name is Beatrice. And your mother's name was Muriel? Muriel Cora Williams. She never liked that, either. Any relation at all to the Cora Williams of the Williams School in north Berkeley? Robert Ratcliff: No, no relation at all. Father's Enelishness. the Ratcliff Side Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You've said that your father was in every way an Englishman. What do you mean by that? Well, my father was a very moral man. He felt that honesty and morality were really a basis for the way human beings should behave and conduct their lives. It was really his religion, I think. His father, an Episcopal minister, was a very religious man, and so was his mother. I don't know whether maybe he got too much of that when he was young or what, but he rarely went to church. Oh, he knew the Bible and all this, because he 13 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: had gone through the traces , but he came out of that thinking that the essence of this was being moral and being honest. Coming from England and seeing the English empire which, he felt, had done wonderful things in developing the world, he felt that the best in the English tradition personified this point of view toward things. A colonialist? Yes, and he was convinced that England could do no wrong. Somehow or other, he felt thetfe was always a good purpose behind everything they did and if there was something wrong, it was a mistake, that it wasn't intentional. He was very defensive of anything that happened in the world, any world affair in which the United States was involved, or any other country was involved, where there was a difference of opinion between the English and others. The English people were probably right. He really sort of went out of his way to underline this every time an issue came along. This is my reaction. He probably would argue that this wasn't right, but that's the way it always seemed to me. He didn't like Churchill. He thought Churchill was just a kind of a rough customer, a bull -in- the -china shop sort of a guy. He really didn't like him very much, but almost everybody else, he thought, was just superior. He thought that we didn't understand statesmanship over here. We did "politics," and the politics usually had a selfish motive, and whatever, and didn't live up to the kinds of standards he felt the English people had established and discovered were the right way of life. How did he communicate that to you? or by example? Was that directly Pretty direct. That was where he felt the lessons of life sort of had to focus, on the set of morals and principles . So they would be spelled out. example . They wouldn't be just by Well, I don't know. I guess you learn more by example than you do by anything else. He was a good example. My mother was, too. They were really straight, and I think that makes ari enormous difference. I think that's one of the biggest problems in this country. You don't have enough of that. It's unfortunate. Evelyn Ratcliff : Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess : Bob's great -grandmother, Teresa Gillis, who married Harry Williams, the seaman from Wales, was a sister of Jim Gillis. There were several Gillis brothers, I think four or something, but Jim Gillis was the great friend of Mark Twain's, and that's how Mark Twain used to be at their house so much, because of his relation with Mrs. Ratcliff 's uncle, Jim. % Jim Gillis actually was a doctor by training. I don't think he ever really practiced very much out here. I don't know what he did. There's a monument at Jackass Hill near Sonora. Have you seen that? The Mark Twain cottage has been rebuilt, and the monument was put up by the Native Daughters and Native Sons, whatever. It tells about Jim Gillis and Mark Twain, and these mule trains that they used to bring in supplies to the miners. I don't know to what extent Mark Twain was actually involved in the business, but the Gillis brothers were, definitely. Did this create any kind of conflict between them? Your mother sounds so well -rooted in California, and your father so well -rooted in England. I don't think my mother and father ever had a problem. They were about the best-coordinated and related people you can possibly imagine. They really loved each other. They never had a serious argument that I heard of, my whole life. My mother's father, however, didn't like the English. As a matter of fact, he was critical of the English. My grandfather thought Churchill was the greatest man that ever lived, whereas my father thought he did things in a very arbitrary way. They disagreed on political things, and my grandfather couldn't get along with my father when it came to a political matter, because he just didn't agree that England was all that good. He was very critical. That was funny. Did your father hang on to a bit of an English accent? 15 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: I never noticed it, although I guess he may have had a slight English accent. His sister, who went back and married his cousin, came back with a much more positive, sort of English accent. But there's a part of England where the English accent is not that strong, you know. He grew up in London. I guess the answer to that is that I don't think he really had an accent by the time I knew him. Picturing the qualities that you're describing, and thinking about how a potential customer would react, the patina of Englishness sounds perfect. Yes, I think of it as a sense of dignity and refinement that people felt about him. He was not trained in public speaking, and he was always very nervous when he was asked to give a talk, unless it was extemporaneous. When it was on a subject for which he had a strong feeling, then he had no trouble whatever talking, [laughter] Forsaking the Academic for the Out-of-doors Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: You said that he was not academically inclined. I said that because I don't think he ever really did any academic research. At least none that I was aware of. Are you saying he was not an intellectual? I would say that he was an intellectual but not a scholar. Let's put it that way. Academic research was not something that interested him. Also, in my family generally there wasn't really much emphasis placed on academic activities, as there was in Evelyn's family, for example. Her mother was a teacher, and she grew up with a circle of people who were really focused on intellectual things. My father knew a great many professors and University people, but I don't think personally he ever did things that would fit the model of a professor, for example. As you describe your upbringing you describe precisely what makes it hard to live to the hilt as a Californian and be an intellectual. I mean, if you're going to be skiing when it's skiing season, and swimming when it's 16 Robert Ratcliff : swimming time, and playing tennis when it's tennis time, then can you remember times when you just sat in your room and read a book? Or would your mother have said, "What are you doing in there?" She probably would have been surprised because it happened rarely. She was a very good reader, and she enjoyed reading out loud, which she did often. Skiing, for Example Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Skiing, for example. They were about the first people in California that had ever even been skiing. We used to go skiing up in the mountains. We'd go down and get on the train at Berkeley Station and go up to the Cisco Hotel. We'd get on the train at about seven or eight o'clock at night and get off at about four in the morning, in the snow sheds, and stay in this hotel, which was run by a lady named Freeman. We'd borrow skis from the PG&E linemen. They were about twelve feet long and about four inches wide. They had a strap that you tied onto your foot, and you'd go out with one pole, which was about ten feet long. It was a great big pole with a blob of wood at the end. The idea was, you'd take off your skis and walk up to the top of the hill, put your skis on, put the pole between your legs so you wouldn't go too fast, and ski down. I mean, it was the beginning. And they were considered to be cross-country skis? That's all they had. Yes, they were cross-country skis. But you couldn't turn, and you probably couldn't do a thing. You could do telemark turns . As a matter of fact, that's the only turn you can really do with such long skis that didn't have pretty tight bindings, but in the beginning we didn't see any people who were doing any turns. Later on we bumped into some people who, I guess, must have come from Norway who could do telemarks. Nobody knew anything about 17 Evelyn Ratcliff : christianias. I didn't even hear the word until a long time after we had started. Joel and Emily Hildebrand and their family and ours did a great many things together. As a matter of fact, my parents told Joel he ought to try skiing sometime, and we took them on a skiing trip, which was the first time ever we'd been together in the snow. Joel took a sabbatical year in Europe. They all went over and took skiing lessons from Hans Schneider, and came back and showed us how to do it! [C.R.] Uncle Henry Swift skied, and he turned out to be really a pretty good skier. He was actually a very well-coordinated fellow, and he did well. He also had a moving picture camera, and he took a lot of photographs. We have one of his movies which was taken when we were staying at the Summit Hotel. We were at the Summit Hotel in 1925 when Charlie Chaplin was there making pictures for the "Gold Rush" movie , over at the Sugar Bowl . He made a movie called "The Gold Rush," which was a classic . Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Chaplin and his entourage were staying at the same hotel. We also saw the rest of his cast. There was a fellow named Scotty Allen, who ran a dog team. A very sad thing happened. The leader of the dog team, the head dog, died the weekend we were there. It really was a terrible scene. Everybody was really broken up. But the picture-taking was really fun to watch, [end C.R.] In any case, when we had spare time it wasn't put into reading and research. It was put into activities and hobbies, and things of that kind. Those were the things that were stressed. We always had projects. I mean, I had a museum when I was young, and I built a house to put it in. [see p. 64] While we're on this, Evelyn, do you have a response to what I was saying, about what you did on a rainy day? Oh, yes. I would say that Mr. Ratcliff was an English gentleman whose parents were very academic. He sort of rebelled, a little, felt that they didn't take careful note of the practical world. I don't think his father ever used a tool in his life, probably. Bob's father 18 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: felt that was important, so he wanted to bring his children up using tools and doing that sort of thing. Also, he felt that you could be so full of book knowledge that you wouldn't really apply it very well to your life. I suppose a parallel would be architects who might teach but didn't design houses --this would be something he'd be critical of, that they'd be teachers but not doers. He was definitely a doer, rather than a theoretical person. He was really very hands-on. If you met him, you would think he was just a wonderful English gentleman. A very handsome, handsome man-- straight, tall, attractive. What would be your impressions of her? She was very pretty and very interested in the children, the animals, the garden. He was interested in the garden. He liked to garden. They both did a lot of gardening. Just a little tangent- -in your own upbringing, Evelyn, how was it on a rainy day for you? Were you encouraged to sit with a book? Well, I liked to sit with a book. I didn't have the opportunities that Bob did, to do some of the other things . The Berkeley Fire Robert Ratcliff: [C.R.] In 1923 the Berkeley fire occurred, and it burned a great section of north Berkeley. At that time, my Ratcliff grandparents were living on the corner of Virginia Street and Euclid- -the northeast section of that corner- -in a redwood shingle house which was burned absolutely to the ground. We went over the day after the fire and there was nothing whatever left. Just as the fire came, the college boys came to the site and told my grandparents that they were about to be burned out. They asked them if they wanted to save anything. They said, yes, they'd like to save the grand piano and the silverware. Grandma Ratcliff told them 19 Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: the silverware was in the kitchen, forgetting that all her good silverware was in a suitcase under her bed upstairs --typical English tradition. They came to live with us after that for about a year and a half, which was nice in many ways. We got to know them very well. It was difficult, however, for my mother, who had ideas about how we should be brought up. Grandma Ratcliff also had ideas about how we should be brought up and they weren't exactly the same, so there was a little conflict at times. Grandpa Ratcliff, who was very deaf, couldn't stand noise, so that was another little problem. Overall it was a good experience for all of us, a time when we all got to know each other better. I think you should really make it clear that the good silver was lost in the fire. Oh, yes, the good silver was under the bed. I should have said that the day after the fire we went back looking for it, because we knew exactly where the bedroom was on the property. We thought there would be a little wad of silver lying on the ground, and we dug around, but I guess it had burned up. [end C.R.] Siblings. Brother Peter Ratcliff Riess: Robert Ratcliff; Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You had two sisters? Perhaps you should tell me how you come in the whole sibling arrangement. Well, I was the oldest one. Pete was the number two. Then I had a sister named Margaret, one named Muriel, and a brother named Walter. Pete and I were about a year and a half apart. Margaret was about another year and a half behind Pete. I think Muriel is probably about another year and a half behind Margaret. Walt is thirteen years younger than I am. Did any of the others take up architecture? No , none of the others . I can remember when graduating from high school my father and mother didn't encourage Pete, for example, to 20 go on to college. They said they weren't really sure that it was necessary. Riess: In the circle in which they've traveled, that seems extraordinary . Robert Ratcliff: Yes, that seems stranger to me now than it did then. For me, I thought it was important to do. But Pete wasn't a particularly good student. He was attractive socially, a very active sort of fellow, and very capable at things he put his mind to. He had a fancy automobile that he enjoyed a lot. So, instead of going on to college, my father gave him a job in the Fidelity Savings and Loan Association. By this time, 1931, the Depression had started. Louis McFarland was the president of Fidelity Savings and Loan Association, and my father was vice-president. When the Depression came, and the bottom just about dropped out, the doors almost closed. That's a whole separate story. We spent a lot of time going around repairing the apartment houses which they owned. There was a lot of work to do, to keep them going. Pete started doing that and stayed on with the Fidelity. He didn't come back and go to college. He finally became president of the Savings and Loan Association a few years later, but I think he's always felt a little unhappy that he hadn't somehow been encouraged to go to college. Most of his friends did go on to college. CO M CO 01 ro CSI VO CO (-1 CD O 0> cd cu CN CN CO O ON CO OS M CU CO Right: 55 Roble Road, Berkeley, 1916 ((Walter H. Ratcliff) Below: "Lone Rock," Mendocino, 1950 (Robert W. Ratcliff ) Right: 93 Panoramic Road, Berkeley, 1942 (Robert W. Ratcliff ) Following page: Above: Walter Harris Ratcliff, Jr. and Muriel Cora Williams Ratcliff, from a painting by Dean Freeman, 1957. Below: Robert William Ratcliff and Evelyn Trueblood Paine Ratcliff, from photographs by Crodd Chin, 1985. i) i f c CM CX, CO s| O Cn c o P I o 4J i. ** r.v I Evelyn Paine Ratcliff, 1987 21 II WALTER HARRIS RATCLIFF, JR., ARCHITECT Chemistry Malor. University of California Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: It's interesting, of course, what Evelyn says about your father trying to correct some of what he felt were his father's misdirections. Well, his father really was very well-educated. He spoke, I think, both Greek and Latin. He gave services in Latin, and he spent his entire time reading. I think my father didn't think that was a good idea. I don't know that they had a screwdriver or a hammer in their house, when he was growing up. When he built his house he built himself a workshop, a great big workshop. We had a lathe . We had everything in that workshop . Can you remember your father ever saying anything about the actual move, and the psychic change from London to San Diego? It's funny. I never really heard much about the psychic change. He was thirteen years old when they came to San Diego. They never had a great deal of money. They had support from England for a while? Yes, six hundred pounds a year that was given to them by the family. Basically, the family had a lot of money, but they passed it on to the oldest son. That was the custom in those days. He was not the oldest son, so he didn't get in on that, but he did get in on something. They never had a great deal of money. But then, in 1894 there was a depression, and they lost a lot of what they had. 22 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: My grandfather was not a great moneymaker , but he was very concerned about education. He moved his family to Berkeley to go to college, because he and my grandmother felt this was terribly important, to get a college education. They came to Berkeley so that the three children could go to the University. Why did your father choose chemistry? I have no idea why he chose chemistry. I never actually asked him that question. Apparently, it didn't pan out the way he thought it would. He got to know Professor Edmond O'Neill, who was chairman of the department, very well. As a matter of fact, he became a lab assistant to O'Neill while he was an undergraduate. He did very well in chemistry. He was given a Sigma Psi for some independent experiments that he made. He got sick while he was an undergraduate , and his eyes began to give him trouble. They decided chemistry was too confining. It kept him inside too much. I wonder if it was some of the chemical fumes and things like that. No, it turned out to be his teeth. It turned out that he had to have a lot of his teeth removed. Whether this was just poor dental care, or whether it was some other problem, I don't know, but they pulled them out. He had a very good set of false teeth. No one would know that they were not the real thing. But just one jaw, wasn't it? Just his lower jaw, yes. Association with Louis McFarland. and Building Houses Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: He started building houses in college? Oh, yes. I'm not exactly sure what the first spark was, but he built four or five buildings while he was an undergraduate . I've read that, and it's inconceivable! It seems inconceivable to me, too, but-- 23 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: "He built houses." That means that he designed them and he contracted them? I don't think they were very elaborate drawings, but he made drawings of houses , and they got contractors to build them. Louis McFarland got people to put up the money to build them. Was Louis a contemporary of his? Yes, they were about the same age. a few years older, I think. Louis may have been I'm not sure what year they first met, but it was in his college time. This was really the beginning of the Fidelity Savings and Loan Association. They made a thousand bucks on each building, according to what I remember. Pete seems to remember the same. That was a lot of money. That was a heck of a lot of money. Louis came from the business end? Yes, he was a businessman. I think that his major would have been business administration, or something of that sort. Had he been a great pal of your father's anyway? Yes. They had known each other. How did he know your father could build houses? I don't know that either of them knew they could do It. I think they just tried. California, the land of opportunity! When his parents came to Berkeley, they first came to a house on Arch Street. I've never identified which house it was. It may still be in existence. Then, they built a house on the corner of Euclid and Virginia, on the northeast corner. That was a pretty good house. I remember that house very well. I think he designed it. It was a two- story house, with four bedrooms. It had one-and-one-half -bathrooms , a nice living room, dining room, kitchen, and a study. Anything special that you can think of, in the way of detailing? 24 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: It was just an old Berkeley craftsman- type house. It didn't have any big, special English background. It was just a wooden shingle house, roughly square [laughing], and you walked up about seven or eight steps, maybe ten, to an entrance porch. It had posts on the side of the entrance porch. As you went into a door, there was a stairway, and a living room on the right, and a dining room, and a study, and a kitchen in the back, and a little backyard. My grandfather used to sit in his study, with his feet up on his desk, and smoke a pipe. He had sulfur matches, made from a block of wood which had been put in a press, which separated it into a thousand little matchsticks, and then they dipped it in sulfur. He had one of those things, and he would be constantly lighting his pipe. The combination of the smell of these sulfur matches and the smoke was something else. I just remember him as sitting there in a cloud of smoke. He was a great, big, tall fellow. He was bent over when I knew him, almost completely bald. And he enjoyed walking, in the old English tradition. He was probably about the same height as my father, about six feet tall. My grandmother was about four feet tall, [laughter] No, she wasn't, but she was small. Okay, but she was pretty short. I used to have two grandmothers and a great -grandmother, and we called her "Baby Grandma." We called my mother's mother "Big Grandma," and we called our great -grandmother, Teresa Gillis, "Best Grandma." She was "Best Grandma" because every time we went to see her, she gave us a French gumdrop. [laughter] This is a pretty mixed-up conversation. The Legacy for Robert Ratcliff Riess: You say you don't know what happened to the chemistry. Well, why be a chemist when you could be building houses? Robert Ratcliff: I think, as Evelyn said earlier, that he was really driven to do things. He was a very project-oriented 25 person. He always had something he wanted to do, and that went on just about to the end of his life. If he'd go to the country, he was always either taking the garage door off and fixing something, or building. As a matter of fact, he started building a cabin, he and my mother, when he must have been seventy-five years old, so they could go up there and be in the same place, but not in the same building with their grandchildren, you know, which we discovered was a very good concept. We did the same. Riess: Robert Ratcliff: What was the survey party your father went on to Mount Rainier? Yes. That was a summer project. He signed up for a survey party that was going up to measure the movement on a glacier on Mount Rainier and do some other things. Riess: That was in the college years? Robert Ratcliff: Yes, he would have had to be in college at that time. Whenever he spoke about it, he spoke about this as an assignment that Roosevelt had given to the district out here, and that he went up as a part of the survey team. He also thought Teddy Roosevelt was a very great guy and he was proud to have been a part of one of these parties. I guess it was a good outing. He used to talk about how after they had finished their work somebody would get the idea they should go out climbing. He liked to do that. He felt that he had the greatest pair of climbing legs known to man, that he was very strong and very capable of doing that sort of thing. I think that it gave him a great deal of pleasure. Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Sounds like quite some person to be the oldest son of. Yes, a tough act to follow. He was a great provider. But with all these things that were given, you can see I used to be embarrassed, because we just had everything that we could imagine we might want, when I was a child. It's just absolutely embarrassing to think of all these opportunities that were made available- -horses , 26 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: ponycarts, going skiing in the mountains, doing all these different things. It was just absolutely fabulous. That was really the hallmark of our growing up, as opposed to one which would have focused more on becoming prepared, and learning more about history, and reading more- -becoming more civilized, somehow. We were really a bunch of Indians. At what point did you actually feel embarrassed? Well, I felt embarrassed when I compare my experience with a lot of people who didn't have this experience or who didn't have access to these kinds of things. I knew lots and lots of my friends didn't have access to this, simply because their parents didn't look at things this way. They may not have had the money. I had always felt we were affluent. I always felt we had lots of money. I don't know if we always did, but we always felt as though we did, because there were just no bars, you know. Yes, that's wonderful. It is kind of wonderful. I think it's unusual. But burdensome , also? Yes. I realized that this was not a true picture of the real world, and I was bothered. Was the notion of noblesse oblige also part of it? Your father you described as enormously moral and so on. Was part of the message that you owed the world something? Yes, I think so. He was strongly motivated toward progress, making a contribution, leaving a legacy for the next generation. This did have an effect on me and the kind of friends I felt most comfortable with. 27 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: My brother Pete was more socially inclined than I was. Early on he developed a large group of friends and was a leader in the group. As I remember it they played together most of the time and thoroughly enjoyed life. I enjoyed them too but felt at the time that there was a serious side that was missing. I think, later, most of them realized this and made up for it. Is it the legacy of the first son carrying the family flame? Well, I felt the challenge, but I never felt as if I'd ever catch up with him. I always felt- as though he was probably the greatest guy that I'd ever get close to. Did you always feel that you would be an architect because your father was? No. I didn't always feel that way. And he didn't always think it was a good idea. He did not encourage me to do it. He didn't discourage me, either, but he'd just say, "Make up your own mind. Look at the world; look at lots of different kinds of opportunities." A Citizen of Berkeley Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: I think that you should mention that your father was very active in civic affairs during the twenties. When his architectural practice was booming, he was very thoughtful of the community in helping with various community projects. He always was. I remember long before I knew the family that his name was very familiar to me, because he was in so many activities, and in the paper a lot. Is that because he was a banker as well as a builder? 28 Evelyn Ratcliff : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: No, before that. I'm thinking of one period during the twenties, where almost any building you saw going up had his name on it. Earlier on, back in about 1915, he was made City Architect, and at that point they were contemplating building five schools. That, I think, got him started. He built all the firehouses in Berkeley, many apartment houses, commercial buildings and residences. He was also involved in a great many different civic activities . This was coming out of a background of* already doing many residences. That's right, a lot of residences. And so this was a way of being in the network of the city, to do this good work? I think it made him very visible and, certainly, involved. A lot of his friends were also involved in these public activities. Talking about Lester Hink--a lot of people were critical of him, because he became a powerful merchant, but he was a constructive person. He gave money to just about every cause in town. He participated in everything. He was very much involved in the development of the town. Lots of these other people were also. I guess there must have been some notion of it being an ideal town. After all, it had this great University. It was young enough. There would have been a lot of excitement about it. I am sure that he would agree with that. But strangely, he didn't do any work for the University, except the Morrison Reading Room. That's the only actual project on the campus that I think he did. Does that mean that he did not have a good connection with John Galen Howard? I don't know. But, you know, in those days the University Architect, Howard, did all the buildings at the time he was the University Architect. It was a later era when they 29 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: started hiring outside architects to do individual projects . That's probably right. In any case, this was a sort of golden era of Berkeley. I think it was really a golden era. I felt that way. And Berkeley's just gone from gold to lead, sort of. [laughter] The Sierra, and the Berkeley Hills, and John Muir Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: We haven't talked about your father's connection to John Muir and William Colby. I think the connection to Colby, and the connection to Muir, came because his eldest sister married William Frederick Bade, and Bade was a close friend of Muir. As a matter of fact, Bade was the literary editor of Muir's papers after he died, as you probably know. He was involved early on in the Sierra Club. Before the Sierra Club started, I think they were friends. Bade was one of the early people involved in conservation. He was an archaeologist and stayed focused a little bit on digging in the ground, I suppose. Colby, of course, was a lawyer who focused on mining and water rights and things of that sort. Early on they became involved in the Sierra Club, the whole family did. They used to tell about a high trip they went on with Muir. I think they had only gone on one. It was a very important event in his life. A high trip. In which decade are we talking about? I think probably before he was married. It was before he married. He spoke of going into the mountains by himself with John Muir and spoke of how he took almost nothing with him, really, to keep warm or anything else. Robert Ratcliff: He went with Muir alone? 30 Evelyn Ratcliff : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: I remember him saying that. And that he just had a shirt for warmth, one shirt, and practically nothing in the way of food. Okay, well, the high trip he went on was not like the high trip would be today, with a hundred people. A high trip in those days would be a high trip with maybe six, or eight, or ten people. That was the kind of a group I think it was. It's one where everybody joins in the camping chores, so you get very close to the people you're with. He felt that he did really get a very good feeling about Muir, an understanding of him as a person. Your father sounds like he was a very different person from Muir. I'm really intrigued to think that they might have done this together. I think of Muir as sort of solitary. He wasn't really solitary. He wasn't one who just talked a great deal, but he certainly talked on occasion. He was not a solitary person. Muir, you're talking about. No, I wasn't talking about Muir then. I was talking about my father. I was talking about Muir, and I'm thinking that the fact that he chose to go with your father is interesting. Evelyn seems to remember that they did it together. I seem to remember it was a small group. I'm not sure. So then was your father an active advocate in creating the Sierra Club? Oh, yes, very much so. He became a very good friend of Colby's, and I benefited by some of that, because then later I became a close friend of Colby's, too. He was very much a part of that whole movement, in the beginning. Is it Marion Parsons who's another? Yes, she used to live across the street here, friend of Evelyn's also. She was a What is the tradition of conservation that he came from? He obviously was interested in the mountains and land. 31 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: The tradition of conservation was strong in England and supported strongly by his family. All English people walk and enjoy the country. It's just been a basic attitude that the family's had ever since I can remember. When you were walking in those hills, it was before it became the regional park system. Robert Ratcliff: Oh, yes, Was your father involved in the creation of the park system? I don't think he was involved in setting up the park system. But I am sure that he was very supportive of the idea. f* There was an organization known as the Sierra Ski Club, made up of mostly University people. My father was involved in this I guess from the beginning. It was started by the Hutchinson brothers, Lincoln and Jim Hutchinson, who were both lawyers, and it involved Little Joe LeConte , and Eugen Neuhaus , and- -I'd have to get a listing written down. They always used to have a walk every Sunday morning and come by at noon, where we lived. I was working in the garden. They'd always come down and give me the works. It was really kind of a nice group of people, and I think most of these people would have been very strong supporters of the park system. They were all focused on this sort of thing. "...in 1928, EBMUD [East Bay Municipal Utility District] completed the consolidation of the water supply [and acquired] .. .substantial landholdings . Determining that the small cachement basins were no longer necessary, the Utility District promptly declared these lands- -some 10,000 acres --surplus and available. Robert Sibley, Executive Manager of the UC Alumni Association, was one of the prime catalysts." [In 1928, with Hollis Thompson, Berkeley city manager, Sibley organized the East Bay Metropolitan Park Association] . A Vision Achieved. Fifty Years of the East Bay Regional Park District. EPRPD, 1984, pp. 4-5. 32 John Galen Howard, and the Hearst Mining Building Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Somewhere along the way, after graduating in chemistry from the University in 1903, your father worked for John Galen Howard on the Mining Building. He was in his office when the construction on Hearst Mining Building [1902-1907] was underway. Julia Morgan was also there. Morgan was on the design team on that building. I think the design period may have been a year or more, or two. And I think he was with Howard a couple of years. How did he get that job? Was he paid? I never heard, but he always was able to draw pretty well, which probably got him the job. Prior to working for John Galen Howard, his uncle Howard Ratcliff, who was the eldest son in the family, who had the money in England and who was a very concerned family individual --he was trying to follow the family and keep it together- -financed my father to go to Europe and go to the English Academy in Rome for about two years. First he decided he wanted to be an architect, and his Uncle Howard said, "If you want to be an architect, you'd better go and study someplace where it's really well-taught, and that's Rome." The English people had an idea that the Rome Academy and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris were the only two schools worth going to in Europe . I wonder why he didn't send him to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Robert Ratcliff: I don't know the answer to that. Evelyn Ratcliff: He probably didn't like the French. Robert Ratcliff: Well, maybe some political reason. I don't know. Anyway, he did go to France, but he focused on Rome. He came back after about two years , then went to work for Howard, and among the projects he worked on was the Mining Building during the time when it was being constructed, not in the initial stages. He remembered this as a great experience. He told us how he dropped a 33 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: gold watch which his Uncle Howard had given him into the foundations . Did he say anything about working with Howard or Morgan? No, outside of that he knew Morgan, because Morgan was there, but, you know, 1 just didn't ask him enough questions. It's okay, and I'll ask you too many questions. A "Gentle Man* Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Bob's father was quite reserved. He was not hail fellow, well met at all. He was private. I don't mean unfriendly. He was friendly, but he was definitely- - reserved is the right word. This is, he would have told you, an English characteristic. Yes, I think it is. One of which he would be proud. It came naturally. He always spoke quietly. I never heard him raise his voice, ever. And I never heard him use a foul word. No, and he was kind and gentle, no cruelty of any kind. He wasn't interested in hunting. He didn't really like animals, but he was kind to them, and animals liked him. I remember when our oldest daughter brought her pet rabbit out from Philadelphia, after she was married. I came into the shop one day. Pop was working, and the rabbit was sitting on his feet, [laughter] He would tolerate it, and he would never be mean, or hit anything. But he'd just as soon that they kept their distance. Of course, our cats would always get in his lap. He used to say that the word "gentleman" means exactly what it says. Evelyn Ratcliff : Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: He was very close to his mother and admired her very much. There was a close bond between them, I think, more than his father. You noted for me that he was very economical . Well, you know, that always impressed me very much, how economical my father was about little things, and with big things as well. He got it, I'm sure, from his mother, because his mother never bought a new skirt if she could mend her old one. She just really reused everything she had until it was completely gone. Well, my father was the same way. He was very economical about everything he did. You ought to have seen the old shoes he used to wear, when he was around the garden. I'd do the same thing. But he always dressed up nicely. Yes. He was more conscious, I guess, than I was, by the time you knew him, Evelyn, [laughter] He would always dress for dinner, and he wouldn't go downtown except very nicely dressed in a suit. He was economical, for example, when he took a shower. He got in, turned the water on, got wet, soaped himself all over and did all his washing, and then he turned and rinsed himself off. Well, I didn't know he always did this. I could hardly believe this when I first discovered it. I asked him about It. "Well, there's no use wasting all that water!" He was before his time, wasn't he? Absolutely. I always felt that was a characteristic example of his interest in efficiency and effort to avoid waste. Locating the Ratcliff Office in Berkeley. 1909 Riess: After leaving John Galen Howard's office he was associated with Henry Schulze, briefly, and then with Alfred Henry Jacobs? Who were they? 35 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You know, that Henry Schulze I had heard about, but I don't remember having heard that from him. Jacobs I did remember. Where did you get the name Schulze? Did I give it to you? I think I did, because I read it in some document someplace, but it actually was not something I remembered. How about Jacobs? What do you know about him? trained man? Was he a Jacobs, I do remember a little bit about Jacobs. They did one building in San Francisco, and I never knew which building it was. I guess several things probably happened. One, he decided he really wanted to work by himself. He didn't want a partner, and the partnership didn't last very long. I think it only lasted for a very short time, and he came to Berkeley. There was some debate about when he came to Berkeley. I think it was 1908 or 1909. I'm not really sure. Some things I read say that he came to Berkeley in 1911, but I don't think that Jacobs partnership lasted that long. I think it was a shorter period than that. I think he came more like in about a year or so, about 1909 or maybe 1910. Several reasons I think that. One is that he couldn't have done all the work that he did over here in one or two years. He had to have a longer time to do that. He didn't do it with Jacobs. He did it on his own. I know that, so I think it's more likey that he came by 1909. I don't think he enjoyed that partnership with Jacobs very much. They may have had a personal problem. I don't know what it was, or whether it was just a difference of opinion about how you did things , or whether it was that the commute to San Francisco was awkward, or whether he thought there were more opportunities on this side, or whether Louis McFarland bent his arm. Probably several different things happened, and he just decided that it would be better, that the opportunities were okay on this side of the bay. I think he went to San Francisco first, thinking because Howard was there that that's where the big opportunities would be. Probably he was right, that's where the big 36 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: opportunities were. But there were good opportunities and advantages to living and working in the East Bay. When he was talking about big opportunities, do you think he meant office buildings, rather than residential work? Oh, I don't know. I think he was interested in both. And some of the residences he did are enormous! Learning bv Doing Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: What do you know about his studies in Rome? I know he was there for many months . He did the grand tour of Europe, and it was all- -not eastern Europe, because people didn't go there in those days, but all the western powers. I'm not sure how long he was there. Well, you're both architects. How do you figure he learned how to do what he did? I think he picked it up on the job. [laughing] Some people do. But those four buildings that he did when he was in college? I know that always seemed quite remarkable to me, because he didn't have a tradition in the family. If his father had been an architect, building contractor, or something, he might have been around jobs enough, and so on. When I was in college, and we had Engineering of Steel Beams. I visualized the beam as the cross- section, [laughing] The handbook has the cross- sections, you see. I thought for a long time that was the whole beam. Well now, you see, the boys in the class, a lot of them had summer jobs working around buildings and all. Now, don't misunderstand me, I did perfectly well, but it's a perfect example of the not- so-practical, isn't it? I did all right in my courses, but I didn't really. I was as good at stuffing a 37 Robert Evelyn Robert Evelyn Robert Evelyn Ratcliff: Ratcliff: Ratcliff: Ratcliff: Ratcliff: Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: formula as the next one. I mean, I think you get a lot by osmosis if you're around construction, but he wasn't ever around construction. That was what was remarkable. He had a lot of home projects going, though. Well, I'm thinking about college. I know. I understand. Oh, yes, he did have private projects. He was pretty good. Yes. The lamps were always being broken. They had the Chinese vase lamps on each side of the sofa in the living room, and someone was always knocking one of those over. And I can just see your father [laughing] gluing those pots together. He sighed when it happened, but then he really patiently- -you know, honey, when he'd criticize or correct anyone about anything, he always did it in such a gentle way. In a way, it was all the more impressive. Did he really love what he was doing, do you think, with the architecture? I think he did enjoy the architecture, much more than the banking. Oh, yes. He didn't enjoy the banking very much. No, he didn't. He did it because he was practical in his point of view, having grown up with not much money. As Bob has mentioned, the family had money. Well, his mother and father- -they ran a school, didn't they? So they didn't have much money, and when they were in this country, they were really poor, down in San Diego. Earning money was very important to your father. He always kept his eye on the ball, as far as being practical about making a living. Well, it's interesting that he chose architecture, because wasn't that a day when architecture was a gentleman's profession? Architecture was a profession of a person who could afford to be an architect. Well, I don't know about that. It was always, certainly, considered a gentlemanly pursuit. That might 38 be right, that for generations the people who went into it already had a living, a guaranteed living. Could well be. Architectural Associates and Influences Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: What were the influences on him, through his friendships with other architects- -Gutterson, perhaps? Well, the ones I heard about, the ones he chose to do the schools when he was architect for the city of Berkeley, were [Ernest] Coxhead and [James W.] Plachek. [Lewis P.] Hobart and [C.H.] Cheney? School. They did Willard I didn't ever Hobart, yeah. I don't know about Cheney, hear him talk much about Cheney. Walter Reed did Burbank School. [George] Kelham was a friend of his. Do you think of them as influences on him? He didn't have a great many architects in his social circle. The social circle he went with all the time was a different group of people. I guess it's just the same today, almost- -well, not maybe right now, but when we graduated we got to know everybody. I'm sure he knew everybody. All architects know all architects, just about. Is that so? Well, it used to be. It isn't that way with me now because there are so many young people. But fifty years ago that was so. Sixty years ago. Is it the same as saying, "All doctors know all doctors," or is architecture more visible? No, probably not, but it was a much smaller circuit. There just weren't that many, I guess. I felt that way within the Bay Area, but I am not talking about other cities. 39 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: And, of course, all architects know about all of the highly publicized architects. Do you think your father was interested in what Frank Lloyd Wright was doing? Would he have followed published work? Yes, he had a large library of publications. He was well -published himself, a lot of the time. He never met Frank Lloyd Wright, but he was very impressed with Frank Lloyd Wright and admired his work. It's not exactly what he would have done, though. Maybeck was a close friend of his, and they had a good relationship. Talk about that. He was very much aware of the works of other architects, and 1 think influenced by their work. He was both critical and selective. When it came to design he was of the "Old School." Because his formal architectural studies consisted only of a year at the Rome Academy followed by a grand tour of Europe, he was aware of the fact that he needed more background, and he developed a pretty good library of books. He actually had a librarian, and the books were all indexed and marked as they would be in a public library. Sources for Styles. Books and Travel Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: So when he had a client they could ask for a certain style? His first love was English architecture. He liked the English cottage style, when it came to houses, very much, and all his early work had a very strong feeling for that. He also liked the Spanish style, too. That's what he picked up when he went to Mexico? Picked up in much greater detail, but I think he started with some lean in that direction, too. He was doing work that seemed to reflect something other than the English style before he went to Mexico in 1922. He was not really interested in producing something which would have such a strong common denominator that it would be recognized as one of his projects. He was more interested, really, in serving his client, to try 40 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: to figure out what that person really liked and then try to do something that would be really in that mood. I think there's quite a bit of variety in his work, although it feels very strongly as though it has an English origin or a Spanish origin, one of the two. Also, he was much more inclined to go to a book and find a detail and reproduce it than architects today would do. In his time it was perfectly proper and in good taste to do that. However, by the time we graduated it was not thought of as being a very good thing to do. You were supposed to be original, to think it up yourself. You might be influenced by some Renaissance proportions, or scale, but you wouldn't be caught making a detail with a Renaissance flavor. That would be considered copying, and decadent. It was not the proper thing to do, for the younger generation. When he was doing his work- -the Pacific School of Religion for example--! know that they just got the books out and copied the details from different cathedrals in France and England. They also did this with a lot of his Spanish work. They chose what they thought they liked, personally, and then imitated them. In some ways, it might be fair to say that this was not one of the most creative periods in architecture. Design appears to have been more a matter of judgement and taste than a matter of creativity and innovation. Well, I suppose the people had a choice of who they asked to do their houses, and if they chose him, they didn't want Maybeck coming at them with some original coloring or some original surfacing. I thought Maybeck himself was strongly influenced by his background. He was a Beaux Arts man, and he spent a lot of time in Switzerland. You can pretty well see in his houses the influences that came from both those directions. You can also see a classic sense of detail. You can see a kind of a freedom and abandon, somehow a sense of-- Freedom and abandon? Where does that come from? Probably from his own nature, from within, but I think his experience in Switzerland had a strong influence. Maybeck does some things like Frank Lloyd Wright, but I have the feeling that the more Frank Lloyd Wright gets 41 to really study something, the more details become complicated. He almost gets lost in these details. I look at Maybeck's work as being much freer. Maybe he relies more on his inspiration than on the formula he's decided for the building. When Frank Lloyd Wright got into his hexagonal mood, everything got to be hexagonal, regardless of what it was, which I don't think would have been the same with Maybeck. Both of these people were determined- - Frank Lloyd Wright, especially. Maybeck seemed to me to be more flexible and more open. My father, on the other hand, was strong-minded about what he felt was appropriate and in good taste, and he had strong feelings about design. I don't feel he was a great innovator. Developing Clients Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Where did his clients come from? How did he get his jobs? I think he started with friends. A lot of clients probably came because they liked his work and him personally. Charisma! Charisma--! think it's a pretty big factor in how people get together. I don't think, however, that you'd get together because you thought a person had charisma and no other talents, but I do think if you thought they had other talents and had charisma, and you had a choice, you'd take the person that you related to well. He was easy to relate to and one you could feel a great trust in, I think. It seemed obvious to me, and I think it did to most people. Also, people enjoyed and agreed with his taste. He was careful about what he did, and he just did things very well. That was another quality I think you sensed. It wasn't going to be slipshod. If it was done, it would be done as well as he could think of doing it. That was a characteristic that I think could be felt quickly and easily. 42 The Ratcliff Office, a Steppingstone from Architecture School Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Also, that attracted the people who came to work for him. He had some wonderful draftsmen. When you go down the list of architects in the area who came a few years after he did, almost all of them worked in his office at some time. You listed Art Dudman, Charles Hasten, Lester Hurd--. Charlie Hasten and Lester Hurd worked in his office before World War I. They went into the war together, became captains in the same regiment and went through the war in France . When people were graduating from UC Berkeley, was your father's office one of the natural steppingstones out into the world? I imagine it was, because it was so close. But he didn't have an enormous number of draftsmen. And actually, there weren't that many architects. There weren't that many architects, period? Not locally, no. Right. The total number of architects was rather small. Even when we graduated, there were only eleven people in the graduating class, not the great big number of people that it is today. Well, Arthur Jory, who was Stafford Jory's brother, was another one who worked in my father's office. I don't think Stafford did. Hike Goodman didn't, because he wasn't here. When I went for my first job, it was at the end of the Depression, and there wasn't very much work around. I got a telephone book in San Francisco, and one of the first crimes I committed was to tear the yellow section on architects out of the book, in the Palace Hotel coffee shop. I lined up all the architects on Post Street, on the northside, on the southside, and Sutter Street, and so on. That way I could make a quick tour and not retrace my steps too much, [laughter] I was surprised that nobody had any work. But I went down the whole list, and about half of them had worked in my father's office. I was just amazed! 43 Riess: They acknowledged that when they met you. Robert Ratcliff: Yes. They would say, "Oh" my gosh, is that what your name is? Well, heck, I used to work for your old man!" It was interesting. It was the same then as it is now. They shifted around. Many of them may not have worked with him a very long time. 44 III W. H. RATCLIFF, JR., ESTABLISHED, 1920s [Interview 2: April 19, 1989 ]## Berkeley's City Architect. Citv 1914. and his Vision of the Riess: In 1914, your father became City Architect of Berkeley. But you were hardly cognizant of this event, obviously. Robert Ratcliff: No. In 1914, I was one year old. [laughter] Riess: Robert Ratcliff: What do you think your father's vision of Berkeley was, as City Architect, and as planner? I think he was very impressed with the opportunity that he had, and that other people had, in Berkeley, principally because the University was here, and because after the San Francisco fire there was an enormous interest in living on this side of the bay. The Key System was put in, and the whole thing became really a wonderful suburban community. He designed a great many houses for people. Some people think he didn't really enjoy the bread-and- butter sort of things. I think that there probably were some he might have considered to be bread-and-butter type, but he had some wonderful clients, when he got going. For Senator Arthur Breed, he did a Renaissance palace in Piedmont. He had some others who were interested in doing really very fine houses, and I think they turned out very well. As a matter of fact, as I look back over his work I'm surprised at how quickly he seemed to jump into fairly big league in terms of the kinds of buildings he was doing. He did the Elks Club, for example, which was also back in about 1913. 45 Riess: Robert Ratcliff : Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: What do you mean by "big league?" Well, he was not only just doing residences, but he was doing some of the major buildings in Berkeley, and apartments, in 1914 or so. In other words, you're amazed that he was getting these jobs. I was surprised that he jumped so quickly into this. When you think of his background, he graduated in 1903 in chemistry, went to Europe and studied architecture and came back and worked for John Galen Howard for a couple of years , went to work as a partner of this man Jacobs in San Francisco for about a year or so, then opened his office in 1908, and by 1910, he was doing some of the biggest buildings on this side of the bay. He had such a remarkably quick transfer from chemistry to architecture on this scale, and to some of these wonderful residences that he was doing at that time. I have often been amazed that he somehow transformed himself that quickly into this field. How do you speculate that happened? Is it because of where he was in the community and his acquaintances, or was it an innate facility? Was it his connection with Howard, or knowing the McDuffies? What, do you think, made it happen? Well, I think he had an ability that he discovered and that he could develop very rapidly. He also put together a wonderful library of books that he referred to. I think he found some talented young people to work with in his office, and, somehow, it just happened, that it's possible to do that. When I compare that episode with my own, I feel as though I developed much more slowly than he did. The Architect as Master of the Building Trades Robert Ratcliff: He somehow just was able to absorb the situation quickly, and he had the concept in the beginning, and it probably went right through his whole life, that the architect should be not really considered as a professional but considered as the person at the top of a building business. It was terribly important for an 46 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: architect to be also a craftsman and to also know exactly how things were put together. The nature of materials was terribly important to him. I used to walk in the hills with him, and we used to discuss how buildings were made. I went out on projects with him when I was pretty young. I can remember going to a project one day with him, and they were making the plaster out in the streetyou know, they always made their plaster in those days. They had this big bin of lime in the street which was curing. They had to put water in and then wait for a couple of days for it to develop, and then the plasterers came and mixed all this stuff on the job. Well, I can remember that he told the fellow, "You can just take the plaster off. It is not mixed right." It was an Italian plasterer, and he said, in a big accent, "What's the trouble?" "Well, it isn't right." "How can you tell?" "You can smell it. You can tell just by smelling!" Your father knew that, and the Italian didn't know it! He really knew what he was doing, and I found that true, also, much later, when I was getting ready to take the state examination. One section was on specifications, and so we were walking in the hills, and I told him I wanted to talk about specifications that day. So we talked about specifications. "Well, what kind of specifications do you want to talk about?" We talked about different things, and I was absolutely bowled over by his knowledge of how things went together, what you look for, the kinds of problems that you ran into. I think that this on- the -job craftsman's knowledge has to some extent been lost to the newer generation. It's a little bit like the landscape architect who does not know very much about plant materials, because emphasis is on general designs and construction and overall effects. When it comes down to the plant materials nowadays, you almost have to hire a plant material specialist to get the plant material detail. Architects don't go as deeply into this now as they did in those days . 47 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You're not making an argument for a Beaux Arts type education? I had that myself, and I'm not arguing that. A Beaux Arts education, as a matter of fact, really didn't give you this either. A Beaux Arts education is still dealing with classical details that have been passed along. It is a sort of historical approach to architecture which my father really had. I don't think he ever really escaped from his interest in English cottage architecture. Christopher Wren was one of his big mentors, and he never really got out from under the influence of that, or the influence of the time he spent in Rome and time he spent on his grand tour of Europe. Thoughts on Maybeck. Gutterson. Thomas. Howard. Bakewell. and Brown Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Besides Christopher Wren, who else did your father consider as a mentor? Well, [Frederick Law] Olmsted was another one of his great mentors. He felt Olmsted had a broad vision, and he did a lot of talking about him. And who was the architect down in San Diego who did the Balboa Park? How about the locals, Maybeck and Willis Polk, people like that? He admired Maybeck, but felt that he was not a practical man. My father was actually a pretty practical sort of person. He put more value on that, I think, than Maybeck did. At least he considered that he did. I think he was impressed with Maybeck' s ability to design, and his free thinking. Maybeck was an awfully nice person. Wherever he went, people just loved that man, not only as a designer but as a person. Mrs. Maybeck would get nervous about what he was doing because she'd be afraid that he'd do something wrong, sticking his neck out. She'd come and talk to my father about that, because she was more practical than he was. What do you mean, "wrong?" 48 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Well, when they were writing a specification about something, or they were writing a contract with somebody, she'd be worried that maybe they weren't covering all the bases properly. How was your father supposed to intervene? He told me that a lot of times he wrote agreements for Maybeck. Mrs. Maybeck would bring down papers and say, "Do you think this is the way it should be?" He'd go through them and change them around to the way he thought it should be, and then she'd be satisfied. This is all behind Maybeck 's back, I take it. Well, it wasn't all so transparent, 1 think. Somewhat, but it was a very friendly arrangement. It was acknowledged by Maybeck? Yeah, until Gutterson got in the act. Gutterson got in, and Gutterson' s a pretty practical fellow, too. So Gutterson took over that role . Yes. I think so. Gutterson was a terribly nice guy. It's interesting. It sounds like it's a profession of nice guys. I didn't think- - You didn't think so? Oh, I don't think I ever met a good architect who wasn't a nice guy- -that's the way I feel --except Frank Lloyd Wright, who was nice to a lot of people, but just a bastard to some. Well, maybe it's just more recently that there are these flamboyant personalities. But whether they're nice guys or not-- Oh, okay. I guess "nice guy" has to be defined more clearly. I feel as though the people I've known, that I've admired, have all felt they had a kind of a responsibility to other people, in architecture, because they were trying to do something that would benefit their community and benefit the people they worked for. Julia Morgan was the kind who just said, "What is it you want?" and then she would carefully, methodically, try to give you what you asked for. Maybeck would say, "Well, I don't know about that. I'm going to have to Riess: Robert Ratcliff: come and live with you for a while before I can understand it." Gutterson was the same kind of guy. He would be very careful and think about what you told him. I think my father did the same thing. Each one supported by his own background. It's interesting that what finally comes out in print about these people is much more in terms of style. The style comes out. Going back for a moment, the person I was trying to think of [at Balboa Park] was [Bertram] Goodhue. He was another mentor of his. He was a leader in the Spanish revival. He did all these towers and buildings down in San Diego. Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Yes, that's right, buildings . He's the one who did the fair Riess: The fair buildings and stuff like that. I must say I think it leaves a little to be desired, but that impressed my father quite a bit. As a matter of fact, when he came to Mills College he started doing things at Mills College which I thought were very reminiscent of Goodhue ' s work . Had your father traveled to see those buildings, or was this from publication that he would have known them? Robert Ratcliff: 1 think he went down to see them as well, but I think most of it was publication. He didn't travel very much. Traveling, for him, was not a thing of interest, really. As a matter of fact, he went to Europe that one time and he never went back to Europe, which my mother was unhappy about. She wanted to go. She never had been, and she never did go. Riess: Well, maybe he didn't want to dash his notion of the blessedness of the English. Robert Ratcliff: I don't know. It's possible, [laughter] Riess: Robert Ratcliff: So you don't know, for instance, whether he saw all the missions? Oh, I don't think he did see them all. He saw some of them. He wasn't really trying to go that far back in his thinking. 50 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: It was at a time when there was kind of a dispute among architects as to whether you should put columns in front of every bank, and if you did, whether you should design them, or just go and buy them? I mean, what's the difference? If you want a Doric column, well, buy a Doric column; don't design it, because it's something everybody knows . Where did this dispute take place? Well, just generally people were beginning to wonder whether this was the right way to do architecture. Are you talking about the twenties? I guess it happened in the thirties, because I was one of the ones that argued that way. John Hudson Thomas was doing some extremely different things . I think Thomas hasn't gotten as much recognition as he should have. He was a wonderful designer, I think. Was he someone who your father palled around with? Oh, yes, he knew him. I don't think they were great bosom pals, but he knew him. I met him, with him, several times. My father was interested also in city planning. Can you remember any particular impression that your father might have had of John Hudson Thomas? John Hudson Thomas was open to an extraordinary number of influences . He was sort of a medievalist, almost. Sam Hume's castle up there on Buena Vista is a very strong statement, I think. A lot of things he did are really strong. Have you ever been in his own house? No. Gee, it's a beauty, go in that sometime, powerful building. It's out in Kensington. You should The Williams School was another Yes, it is. In this book that we were both looking at, Bay Area Houses, it refers to his stylistic touches. I 51 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: was thinking that he brought to the Bay Area something new. He brought it in, but I don't think anybody else really picked it up. A lot of his work is almost unique in the area. I don't think many other people were doing it his way. He had a very creative mind, and his work ought to be looked at carefully, because it shows a lot of independent thought. Your father did not choose him, for instance, to be one of the architects of the five Berkeley schools. I don't know why he didn't. I know that he thought Hobart was a good architect. I think what he did at Willard School was spectacular. I don't know if you remember it before it was wrecked, but it was a wonderful concept for a school. It's been replaced by something which is really quite unfortunate by comparison to what was there. To go back to the influences on your father. His first architectural mentor was John Galen Howard? What did he take from that experience? Well, I think probably it sort of underlined the classical approach to architecture that at that time he understood. I think this gave him a much broader feeling. Do you think that Howard was one of those people who knew materials and was the top of a team of builders in the way your father was? I cannot definitely answer that, but I sort of doubt it. I don't think he really was. It's hard for me to think that my father got more than a confirmation from Howard that this was a legitimate kind of architecture. He did learn some techniques, how to put a building together and how a big office is run. He knew John Bakewell pretty well. I don't know how much he got from him. And Arthur Brown pretty well. They were, also, doing the same kind of work. He knew them in a social way, almost more than he knew Howard in a social way. He never worked for Bakewell and Brown, but I know that he felt they were pretty spectacular people. Bakewell was considered the more practical man, and Brown was considered the more politic man. [laughs] 52 Apparently, Brown was the one that got out and went to the parties and brought In the work. Bakewell sort of stood there and figured it out and put it together. I don't know who did the designing. I guess they both did, but Bakewell was somehow more involved in the production and the office working apparently than Brown was . Downtown Berkeley Contacts, and the Merchant's Exchange Building in San Francisco Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Well, now that you've brought up that vision of the architect as someone who has to go out to the parties to bring in the work, and you talked about your amazement that your father was able to leap into it so quickly, what part did that play, the going out to the parties? I don't know how he got spirited into the cross-section of people who were really the movers and shakers of the time , but he became involved in that group very early on. I don't know whether it was going to parties or not, but it was being on boards and getting involved in social things, and making statements about what he felt should happen. Somehow, there was a group of people who were doing the planning for the city. It was a small group of people, probably wasn't more than twenty people who were doing all of the basic planning for what was going to happen. He became involved with that group, and as the projects went on, he was the principal architect involved. He just simply got all the work. I don't know if that's an oversimplification, but it seems to have worked like that. I don't know how you actually steer yourself into that. Your choice of friends is your business, and you go to places where your interests are and where you think you can be effective. He got very close with all these characters in Berkeley, very early on. Well, we're talking about whom? Oh, Hink, McDuffie, Radston, and who else? I've probably got a list of them somewhere; I could give you a long, long list of people. He went and played tennis 53 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: a good deal. For example, he met this man Billings who lived in Marin County and was a good tennis player, and he used to take a weekend and go play tennis with Billings in Marin County. Well, Billings was big in San Francisco, and I don't know what he did, but through Billings he got this Commercial Club job, which was the thirteenth and fourteenth stories of the Merchants Exchange. So that really brought him up for air, and into view. People could see him, and he did a good job on it. From that I think he got quite a spinoff. You don't know where to go to find this kind of energy, but this happened to him a great deal, I think. To work back a bit, it sounds like the association with Louis McFarland was very important. That's another one. He knew Louis a long time before they formed the Fidelity Savings and Loan Association. They started doing work together, and Louis knew a lot of people. He was good at smelling out where the money was [laughs], and so that did help a good deal. Also, I think he did a lot of work with Louis that he might have considered just bread-and-butter stuff. They were just building houses to make money and meet an obvious need- -sort of speculative kinds of things. I tried to discuss this with him at one time. "Why don't you take me around and show me some of the stuff you did?" And he said, "No, I don't want you to know. Some of the stuff I did should be anonymous . " I didn't press it. If I'd pressed it, I think he would have, but the explanation was that they were doing a lot of promotional work, and that a lot of the houses he designed they repeated, and twisted and turned, and gables were put in and dormers were put on, and stuff like this. He didn't really have too much control over the projects, nor did he think they were awfully well- designed buildings. Of course. I mean, there would be nothing wrong with creating a kind of model of medium- range housing with a certain charm. Robert Ratcliff: It was low-cost housing, in a way, you know. 54 Excellence in Materials. Plaster Work Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: One of the things that impressed me a good deal was his standard of excellence. He was very much impressed with the concept that buildings should grow old gracefully, that the parts should wear out together, that pieces shouldn't break off because they were not well- conceived, that they should be thought through all the way. That permeated his work. I think a lot of his residences will probably survive a very long time because he gave a lot of thought to that kind of thing. 1 think he understood it. So he would be horrified at the plaster that was not going to ripen or whatever. He absolutely couldn't stand it. 1 used to use his own house as an example when I first did plaster buildings. It was built in 1914 and was virtually in perfect condition in 1940. I used to take plastering contractors to see it and tell them, "It doesn' t have to crack, but it depends on several things. If you guys do it right, it won't crack. " When I did this house, right here- -you can see the ceiling--! said, "I want you to put on a float finish, and I don't want to see any trowel marks." The plasterer said, "It's impossible." I said, "Oh, come on. It's not impossible! It's possible." And he said, "You can't show me a job." So I took him over, and I showed him his [my father's] house. "Oh," he said, "Okay, 1 can do that, but nobody else in my shop can do that." I said, "Well, I'm hiring you . " But I had to actually show the plasterer a job before he would accept the fact that it's possible. Of course, the other thing with plaster is that it's been adulterated to the point where it's almost impossible to get good plaster anymore. You buy it in sacks. And they've got gun plaster, which they can put in a gun and squirt on the building. When they do that, they have a certain combination of materials that will go through the gun. Everything is made so it's easy for the plasterer to apply, it's made sticky, so it doesn't fall off, so you can put more on the palette. In the old 55 Riess: days you didn't do it that way. The quality of the material came first and you had somebody inspecting it who knew what he was inspecting. There have been changes in some of our materials, and some of our techniques, based on union rules which say you can't lift more than five or six pounds, or lay more than so many bricks. Therefore, the units have to be smaller, or easier to apply. Many things have happened. Some materials have improved. However, a lot of the things that depended on on- site labor have deteriorated in quality. In order to get something good you almost have to get it premanufactured and applied- - built in a factory and applied on a job, not made on the job. In all big buildings now, almost everything is manufactured and applied. You only accept the finished product. You don't have to accept poor workmanship. If you want to build something, you get it assembled ahead of time, and accept it before it is installed. That's the technique. Industry's done this. If you set the computer to work, you can do some things more accurately than the human being could do it. That's what we're aiming for. H Was your father interested in color, for instance in the plaster? Robert Ratcliff: Yes, he was interested in color but not in strong primary colors the way people in warm climates use color. I think he would have said that he preferred natural colors , the kind you find on eucalyptus trees . Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: What would he think of the house on Tunnel Road today? The one that was the Nickerson house, I guess. I think he would say that they damaged the house by painting it. I thought it was much better when it was white then it is in this color. Did it start out white? Robert Ratcliff: Yes, it was sort of a natural plaster color, but it wasn't a green plaster. It was a natural light color, California stucco. 56 Riess: Robert Ratcliff : Riess: Robert Ratcliff: What is the difference between stucco and plaster? You must tell me. I don't understand. 1 think of my house as being stucco. Stucco is plaster. Well, then, when do you use either term? There's cement plaster and lime plaster. Lime plaster is essentially used on the inside of the building, and cement plaster is on the outside. Stucco is a color coating made of Portland cement with some lime in it installed as the final finish coat over a cement or lime plaster base. It is more durable than lime plaster. It is applied as a thin finish coating for durability, color and texture. Pure Portland cement would turn out to be like concrete. The trouble with lime is that it is soluble in water. If you put very much lime in the exterior plaster, it doesn't last. A certain amount of lime makes it much easier to work. That is why they add lime to Portland cement to make stucco. Exterior plaster is normally a three coat job. The first two coats form the body of the plaster. You put the first two coats on in quick succession so that they'll hold together. The scratch coat goes on first, then the brown coat goes on second to build up the thickness to somewhere between three-quarters and an inch thick. The stucco, about an eighth of an inch thick, is a color coat, with a finished texture. Cement plaster, to be really good, should have almost no lime. The problem with doing it that way is that it's much harder to work. Lime makes a juicy kind of mix, and it sticks wherever you put it. Well, you try to get them to do a good plaster job these days, and they just load it up with lime to make it easy. When they do that you get much more expansion and many more cracks. It's not nearly as strong. Swedes and Italians, and the Craftsman Tradition Riess: It seems like what you're describing as your father's architecture is buildings and materials that one knows and understands. 57 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Yes, he felt inadequate if he didn't think he knew as much about the work that workman was doing as the man who was doing it. He felt that that was his responsibility, to know enough so he could tell that man pretty much how he should do it. That's why, maybe, your father is considered to be in a craftsman tradition. I think so, I think it's fair to say. He would have said that, perhaps, himself. However, he felt very strongly about design, and he felt very strongly about color. He felt very strongly about the involvement of the landscape and the position of the building on the site, and the relation it had to the community. These things he was very positive about. There was nothing halfway about his decisions when he made them. It's interesting that he had these strong feelings without having them informed by reading or a particular philosophy. I think he was in continual contact with architecture that was being done. He kept up on the publications, for example; he just had every magazine, and he indexed them. He had every volume of Architectural Engineer for I don't know how many years. Great stacks of these things . When your father sniffed the plaster and said that it was not the right mix, or whatever, how did he learn that? Did he have just the most superior craftsmen at some point? There were superior people in the trades , and I bet you that he didn't use more than three contractors in the major work he did around town, and they were all Swedes --Sorenson, Nordstrom, Carlson- -they didn't even speak English sometimes. He'd go to a job, and these guys were all speaking some foreign language. What about Portuguese, and Spanish, and Italians? Yes, there was Haschio. The only stonemason that he would use was Maschio. He came from some place in Italy or Sicily. People like that, they came with a great tradition behind them, and they were real artists. Riess: Were these practically first-generation immigrants? 58 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Yes, all of them spoke with an accent. They brought the old world know-how to this country. They represented the difference between the Middle Ages, or the Renaissance, and the Modern period. And that difference reflected in the drawings on the buildings. When you made drawings on the buildings, if you wanted a Corinthian capital, you made some wiggly lines and said, "That's what we want." You got a lump sum bid for making it, and then later in the office they would make a full-size drawing and give it to the person. Then they'd go back and make it. In Renaissance times I think they just made wiggly lines without making a drawing, and the craftsmen made the thing. We've come all the way from that. At the present time, if you don't show each line on the set of working drawings, you pay extra for it. At the same time, we have young kids who are trying to be craftsmen and trying to do these things themselves. We're going around full cycle. We have reached a point where people recognize the reward of being a good craftsman- -a personal satisfaction, you know, being able to do it. I think it's kind of interesting. I think it's very interesting, was at the point where--. In your father's day, it He was sort of in the middle. Drawings were simple, he used the wiggly line and depended on craftsmen. Still the full working drawing stage? Well, working drawings for a very elaborate building, which would have four or five sheets of drawings about that big. They would be the working drawings. But then when it came to building it, they would make full -sized details of every blooming thing. You made them on detail paper, which was just craft paper, and it would come in a great big roll. They would roll this detail paper out and roll it up at the other end of the table. When the mill man would come out they would give him a roll of paper that was thirty feet long, with all these details on it. The Hogan Mill in Oakland was one of the big shops for doing this kind of thing. These Hogan brothers, the two little guys would come out. They did some work for me later. As a matter of fact, I made drawings that way. In my father's day they were all made that way. 59 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess : Robert Ratcliff: The Hogan brothers had worked for my father for thirty - five years before I came along. They were just on the way out when I came along. Did your father go down to the mill and look at wood, too? Yes, these guys would bring it out. I mean, they couldn't be more cooperative. You'd tell them, "Absolutely straight grain something-or-other , " and, boy, you got absolutely straight grain something-or- other. * That's so interesting, and your story of the plasterer here, that in fact he could do it, but you had to push him and push him. I had to, because he was hiring people that he knew wouldn't do it. The standard of the trade had dropped to the point where you had to really insist on it. The standard of the trade, when my father was working, would have not accepted anything less than this. On-site work that had to be made- -well, anything that had to really be made on the job takes more supervision now than it did then. The standards were much higher. Walter Steilberg. Friend and Neighbor Riess: You know those ceramic squares that were set in houses? Robert Ratcliff: Yes. Steilberg used a lot of those. Riess: Yes. Did your father? Robert Ratcliff: He used them, too. I think he may have gotten the idea from Steilberg. Riess: Was that something that had suddenly become available? Robert Ratcliff: I think that the Chinese were shipping stuff over all the time, and those were used for vents, mostly. It was a good idea. The Mexicans used to do this by stacking up Cordoba tiles. Riess: Your father and Walter Steilberg were about twenty years apart? 60 Robert Ratcliff: They weren't that far apart. When was Steilberg born? Was it '94? '90? I would say more like ten to twelve years difference, something like that. They knew each other, but they weren't socially close friends. I'm sure they did things to a certain extent together, but they didn't ever work together. I got to know Steilberg much better than my parents did, partly because Evelyn knew Steilberg. She lived here a block away, and she played with Helena [Steilberg Lawton] . I got to know him in college because he kept track of what was going on in the University. He also had some independent ideas on things that I was attracted to. And I used to talk to him about architecture. I found he was a great guy. I enjoyed him. Social Life and Musical Life Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Did your mother operate as a sort of social creature in advancing your father's career? My mother's family was well-connected with the upper crust in San Francisco, and part of it because her grandfather had made a lot of money during the Gold Rush. They had a lot of money. Did they entertain potential clients? No, they were a little bit cagey about that. I don't think they ever entertained for the purpose of getting work. They entertained for social purposes, and that was all. They were a little bit critical of people who didn't do it that way. The standards you were living by were really pretty fine, weren't they? [laughter] I tell you, you were very careful not to ever, ever suggest that you were doing this for any other reason but to be a pleasant person. I grew up with that feeling. As a matter of fact, I'm still critical of people who are self-serving and attempt to somehow put themselves forward in that sort of way. 61 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Though, on the other hand, you might meet people at the club or on the tennis court. That would be okay. Well, when you meet people, and it's a genuine meeting for common interest, that is one thing, but to invite them to your house to have dinner and expect to get from that some other benefit, that is different. Somehow, you're working a person over. That puts them in an awkward light. I was told that that was something you never did. As a matter of fact, they had a lot of parties at their house. It was a good house to entertain in, with a wonderful room for music, and they had a lot of musical events. Both of my parents liked music a great deal. My father took part in some of the events with other people. Helen Berryhill and Charles Mallory Button were two of the great people who came to these parties. Helen was a good singer and played the piano very well, and she was an enthusiastic person. Charlie was going to be a concert pianist at one time. He decided he was not good enough. He spent a big part of his life in Paris. He very seldom performed, but he had a wonderful sense of humor and he took the floor most of the time. He was almost always the center of action. My father also played the violin and sang quite well, and so he usually functioned as a performer in these things. They were really quite exciting, as a matter of fact. There was a gal named Ruby Helder, a lady tenor, who came and sang. It was one of the curiosities, I thought, of the whole thing. She was the wife, for a while, of the artist Chesley Bonestell. Bob was born in the house where they had lived. Later he [Bonestell] gave us his painting of the house . We had a very, very interesting interchange with these people, and that drew out a lot of people. You'd be surprised the people that came out of the woodwork to join in these musical evenings. They were just wonderful people. Henry Gutterson did a house for Charlie on the corner of Bridge and Tunnel. It's owned by Mrs. Reinke now. it is one of the great houses in this town, right across from McDuffie. Maschio did all the stonework. 62 It was Maschio who built the big wall for McDuffie along Tunnel Road. I don't know if you know that. There's a stone wall that runs for the whole block from The Uplands over to Roble Road. He did most of the good stonework that was done. I'm not sure if he did the Blind School work. I think that that wall around the Blind School was done by somebody else, but that's a good job, too. I bet it was done by an Italian. [C.R.] Somewhere along in there I decided to take up singing. I loved to sing, and I was encouraged to do this by my family and also by the fact that my father sang. I started with Mrs. Beckman, who was a neighbor who lived down on Chabot Road, and I worked out with Mrs . Beckman for several years . I never seemed to make much progress. However, I don't think she did me any harm. I guess she really had an idea that may have been sound, but somehow it didn't take with me. I sort of broke this all up by moving from Mrs. Beckman to a gal named Bowman in San Francisco who was an opera singer and who had lived in the opera circle, which was a very fast-moving crowd, and who believed in the hands-on technique of just trying for it even if you couldn't do it, and sort of abusing your voice in the hopes that somehow, through this abuse, something good would come. That sort of cooled me off after a short time with that woman. I stopped taking lessons, [end C.R.] I'm sorry I never got off the ground far enough to satisfy myself. I don't think they knew how to teach music, frankly, very well. Not nearly as well as they do now, because there were not really a great many very good singers. The really good ones were few and far between, whereas nowadays they're just by the dozen. The operas are just filled. Everybody can sing well, somehow. They've learned how to teach it. Riess: But for you it was just part of being well-rounded? Robert Ratcliff: Oh, I thought music was interesting. I suppose I had been pushed by my parents' interest in music, but I didn't know what I wanted to do, originally. I thought maybe music would be something I'd like to do. I studied the piano, and I studied singing. I thought maybe I'd like singing better than the piano, so I studied singing more vigorously than I studied the piano. I got down to the point where I realized I 63 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess : Robert Ratcliff: wasn't making it. I thought that would be a nice avocation rather than a vocation. I read that your mother helped your father on the Berkeley Country Club. What did she do? Well, she was interested in plants, and she used to go out and talk with him a great deal about the landscape arrangements and things. She wasn't a landscape architect at all, but she had been exposed to a lot of nice stuff when she was young, and she came by it naturally. She wasn't trained in that at all. Did your mother and father work together on anything else that you can think of, or was that special? Well, I know that she was very interested in his work and that she was very sensitive to color. They used to discuss color schemes for projects, and planting and garden arrangements, and that sort of thing. Those were the principal things I think she felt she could offer some ideas on. As a matter of fact, they discussed those things quite a bit, and she went on many, many projects. She worked on Mills College a good deal. She was up on various different projects. The Berkeley Country Club- -she spent some time discussing that. This was after you children were a little more grown up? No, we weren't grown up, really. But there was someone at home, so that she felt free enough that she could go off and work on it? Yes, there was someone at home. We had a woman, a sort of a housekeeper, named Mrs. Leary, a fabulous woman who was with us a good deal of the time. She was a great woman. We all got to love her very much. Remodeling the House on Roble Road, and Creating a Riess: Do you remember the remodeling work on your house in 1923? 64 Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Oh, yes. Sorenson did it. He built the house originally, and he made the alterations, with a bunch of Swede carpenters . Did you come racing home from school in order to be there and watch? No, at that point I wasn't all that focused on those kinds of things, but I was interested in what they were doing. And we were always making things, projects. For instance, if there had been some wet plaster around, would you have taken some? Well, I was interested in knowing how you could tell whether it was good or not, and I was interested in seeing how they did it. I learned a great deal just watching those guys. I was very interested in the process. Then later Frank [William Francis] Giauque in chemistry, when he was in college, came up and built us a little wooden stable in our backyard for our two ponies. He and another friend. Why he? He was a college boy, who needed a summer job. Somehow, they found him. Whoever would have guessed what he would turn out to be ! He was a very good worker and a good carpenter. I used to go and sit out there with him and hammer a few bent nails, and stuff like that, and watch him work. It didn't take a long time. It wasn't a big building, you know. [C.R.] After we got rid of the horses in Berkeley I added onto this building which Giauque had made, plus another room, and made a museum out of it, and we transferred all my museum stuff into this building. I was very interested in bones and things, and butterflies and flowers and whatever. I had started the museum earlier. We put together skeletons of horses and sheep and cats and birds, and tried doing some skinning of animals and that sort of thing. Once we went up in the hills and found bones of a dead horse, and a few dead cow bones. We put them together and made a skeleton out of the two. Some things we boiled down. We boiled down a chicken at one time, which was a real disaster. It didn't come out too well. That's a very complicated 65 thing to put together, a chicken. We also buried a sea lion one time and dug it up about a year or so later. That was also sort of a disaster. It didn't really completely disintegrate. Leonard Eliel and I dug this thing up, and we found this pool of dark brown oil that stank like anything. Anyway, we got bones out of it, and we finally put together part of the skeleton, but it wasn't awfully successful. Another thing that happened fairly early along was that Miss Hewitt came up and started her school for young preschool children at our place. Finally, it was continued down on Benvenue. I didn't actually go to this, but I guess perhaps my sisters Muriel and Margaret were the first ones that really went there and got the full flavor of the whole thing. Mrs. McCoy also taught music and eurhythmies, which were sort of an outgrowth of something that Dalcroze had developed, where you beat time with your body and. your arms in time with the music, and at the same time you might make a rhythm of two-four with one arm, and three- four with another, and four- four with your stamping of your feet, and so on. It was a kind of a coordination exercise. She was great for coordinating body actions with musical rhythms. She was also great for ear training. All of us had very strict ear training lessons, which was interesting, and I think stuck with some of us still today. Then we went to John Muir School and Willard School and did all the things young people do. [end C.R.] Riess: But your father didn't have that same kind of experience in his own upbringing, of watching people build things? Robert Ratcliff: I doubt it, because his father didn't know anything about building. I think my father did most of the fix- it jobs around the house, because his father was really not interested in that sort of thing. His father was the last scholar in our family. He spent all his time smoking a pipe and reading a book, as far as I could tell. My father spent no time smoking and very little time actually studying and reading books, as far as I could tell, and almost all his time on architecture. He worked very hard. One of the problems I felt, and I think he probably also felt, was that he spent very little time with us, 66 because architecture to him was practically a seven-day job. It was a six-day job, at least. Sunday afternoon, we usually could shake him loose, and we always had a big meal in the middle of the day on Sunday, in order to break the routine. After that, we generally took a great hike. I don't see how they did it. I would think after a big meal like that I'd want to go to sleep, but they seemed to be able to handle it. Planning. Zoning, and Burying Creeks Riess: This idea of Berkeley being the Athens of the West: when your father was thinking about city planning issues, I wonder if he had any actual or ideal place in mind. Robert Ratcliff: I know that he was on the planning commission in the beginning, when they first set up a zoning ordinance and when they first attempted to make a plan for Berkeley. I know that he was very distressed when they covered up all the creeks and somehow ignored the natural features of a site, simply to make more space for developers to do their things, and a more mechanical arrangement- -a rectangular street system, and stuff- -that really didn't look like the possibilities that were suggested by the creeks that ran through. I know that he talked to Duncan McDuffie about that, and McDuffie was strong for protecting the environment. I know that there was much talk about what was happening out on Solano Avenue when they did develop that area, because there was a nice creek that went down through there . He went out and argued that one , and so did McDuffie. McDuffie's original plan called for keeping that creek and making it public land all the way down. McDuffie was strong for this. The trouble was, you couldn't save it unless you made it public. This meant less land to develop, it meant taxes to maintain it, et cetera, et cetera. All the practical boys rose up and said, "You can't afford to do this. You simply have to develop this land." I remember a little bit about the Solano creek argument. I don't remember about the Berkeley creek argument, but probably the same kind of thing went on. It was the same thing that happened when the University decided to build a stadium. Every architect just 67 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: screamed about that, but you couldn't get past the regents on that one. It was too bad. On Solano, people said, as I am sure they said about other Berkeley creeks, "We can't afford to keep that open. There's nobody who's going to be able to maintain it, and it'll just be a place for garbage, for all this kind of stuff." So they just put a pipe in and developed it. That's pretty sad, because Berkeley had the opportunity to become a nice Carmel-type village, or to have the Carmel-type village feeling, at least. But the power of the dollar was too strong. It was the same when Burnham made the plan for San Francisco after the fire, you know. He had a lot of wonderful ideas that were just run over. He tried to outlaw the twenty- five foot lot, and stuff like that, and couldn't get past the real estate agents and the bankers, or the developers who were able to call the tunes . And yet there was enough money in those days, in a way, to have been more generous . I think so, and it was the old English tradition, you know. That's one place where my father got this. If you go to Australia or New Zealand, you'll just see this. It's just remarkable. Greenbelts . When they laid out a city. They first set aside some of the best land for the public. They had a city plan in mind. Big waterfront sites, islands, rivers, creeks- - these things became public land before anybody was permitted to build buildings. I tell you, it's something to behold. My father tried to carry that tradition here. McDuffie tried it. And the prospectors won. Even though the prospectors were probably among his close friends, weren't they? They probably were, although I don't know that they all were. I think the money interests were not necessarily just twenty strong-minded people. I think there were others. There was considerable pressure, apparently, to do this. I just don't know what the details of what happened. I know it didn't go by without being considered. I know it didn't just automatically happen. 68 I know that there was a group of concerned citizens that got wiped out. "To Go Beyond Oneself Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: In the article about your father's work in Architect and Engineer [May 1916, Vol. XLV, No. 2], the author wrote about "the divinity of man and the godlike qualities latent in the humblest of us, and the use of simple materials, and the kind of ennobling of this architecture of humble origins, taken up by strong architects." "Men of feeble purpose follow classical tradition." Were those concepts prevalent, or was that just this author's flight of fancy? Well, I think they were, probably. I think that man is developing his philosophy rather than the philosophy of someone else, frankly, but I think that those ideas had some influence. They were certainly part of the atmosphere of that time . The conclusion of this article was to congratulate Berkeley for choosing a first-class man for public buildings . Well, my father was capable of being pretty objective about an assignment. He also felt that Willis Polk, for example, was very objective when they started designing the 1915 fair. He was given the job, and he could have taken any building on it that he wanted, but he passed them around to people he thought could do a good job. I think he wound up not doing a single building in the whole fair, thinking that he would finally do the Palace of Fine Arts, but Maybeck beat him out. He [my father] was very impressed with that. He was impressed with that was because that sort of struck in him a chord. He believed that this was an important quality to have, that you were willing to see yourself in context with others around, and in serving that client, do the best for the client, putting yourself in objectively only where you could do the best job. I'm sure that he would have said that he felt that. And so when he got the job for the Berkeley schools he started thinking, "What would be the best combination 69 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: of talent to do this?" He thought that the Coxhead brothers were just fabulous. He thought Hobart was great. Down the line, he got four or five architects for the different schools. A lot of people may have seen that and admired him for doing that. They thought he was a great person. Beyond being an architect, he was a great person. I think that's the kind of thing that people respect, a good human quality. He had the example right on the campus of a master architect who really didn't let it get out of his hands --John Galen Howard. That is true. That is exactly true. I never heard him comment on that, but Howard never really could let it out of his hands. On the other hand, I think Julia Morgan did probably more design on the Mining Building than Howard. She was working on it at that time. I interviewed John Gregg a long time ago. He was supposed to be the landscape architect but he hardly got a chance to do a thing under Howard. Today there are architects who want to do it all themselves, the so-called big stars who want to be responsible for every detail. There's room for everybody. There's room for those fellows, but there's also room for the other approach. In Bay Area Houses, I read: "Thomas, along with his Berkeley contemporaries, Gutterson and Ratcliff, settled down to two decades of design in the dollhouse idiom. .. [spotting] their fairy tale cottages all over the hills of Berkeley."* I suppose what that means is that he repeated many of the same features in many of the houses he did, so that they became recognized. I think it's in part a matter of the scale of the elements. Shrinking them down? See "Life in the Dollhouse," by David Gebhard, in Bay Area Houses. Peregrine Smith Books, 1988. 70 Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Yes. a Then I think that's a justified statement in some ways. When a person wants an English cottage and can't afford one of the scale in which he'd like to have it, maybe what has happened is that they have condensed some of the material down to a smaller scale in order to get it all in. I think that is a fair criticism. I've thought about that myself a few times . I think that probably the intent was to give the impression of something grander than there actually was, which I don't think is an awfully laudable thing to do. Perhaps that kind of thing happened. That sounds like just what you were saying: give the client what he wants. I think it was more like give the client what he wants. I can't tell you what was exactly on his mind, but I think that was the result. I agree with that. I think he might agree with that, too. When I think of [John Hudson] Thomas, I'm not really sure of an example that makes me feel that he did that, but it might be true. Site Work and Landscaping Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: As to the landscaping, did you father work with anyone, or was that always part of his drawing? Oh, no, he worked with Gregg a good deal. Did he? Like on the Tunnel Road house, the Nickerson house, which has a lot of grounds? I don't know. He might have consulted. I never heard of who he did consult, if he did consult anyone. Possibly, he consulted Gregg. When he gave a client a drawing, it would include base plantings and things like that? Well, yes, some general site development work would be shown on the original drawing, but the detail would all be developed afterwards. 71 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: In his office or out of his office, do you think? Well, I think some of it was done in his office, and I think, also, on some projects someone else did it. What would have been the tradition in that day, vis-a vis landscaping? I mean, would it have been something that you assumed that you would get along with your house? [pause] Yes, I guess it probably would be, but I'm not really sure. Domestic landscape architecture I think may have developed after architecture. I think architecture was always a little bit ahead of landscape architecture. Landscape architects came along to help the architect, rather than the other way around. In a sense, it was optional for the architect whether there was a landscape architect. Well, there was Frederick Law Olmsted, of course, but Olmsted did the big schemes? He was a city planner. He was looking at much bigger projects. He was a very, very powerful person. He had his time in Berkeley, too. Oh, he had his time almost everywhere you go, it seems. I can't imagine how he got around so much. He and Goodhue had a terrible fight when they were doing Balboa Park. Goodhue maintained that the building should be the centerpiece. Olmsted maintained that a park was a park, and the landscape should be the centerpiece. My father's sister's husband, William Frederick Bade, after she died he married a Marston. Marston was then the person who was promoting Balboa Park in San Diego. He was the big mover and shaker down there at that time . My aunt tells about how she waited on the table when Olmsted and Goodhue came to dinner. They were discussing this subject: what was going to dominate the park. The dinner party broke up, with everybody going his way and nobody happy. After the dinner party, Olmsted resigned, because Goodhue had won. He couldn't stand to work with Goodhue. 72 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Well, I guess we could all wish that Olmsted had spent more time in Berkeley. Maybe the Solano Avenue development could have been different. Yes, I don't know if he said anything about that. I wish he could have had more influence on the way Berkeley was developed. The old English concept was that all major cities and all major urban areas should focus on open space. The whole community needs to be thought of in this way. It needs to be a space which all would be proud of. It's something that we all have an interest in. The English tradition is that you went and did that first. And that is just so beautiful, I think. American Trust Company Building. 1925 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Let's talk about the Wells Fargo Building, Berkeley's skyscraper. The twelve-story building. It was first called the Berkeley Center Building. Then it became the American Trust Company Building. It's now Wells Fargo. Each time it took the name of the company that took the ground floor. Actually, in the beginning, when it opened it was American Trust. I think the working drawings still carry the name of the "Berkeley Center," or something like that.* The key person on that was John Drum, and I have no information on him. Drum was the developer? Yes. The concept was that they would get some big bank tenant on the first floor, and then they would rent the upper floors to offices and become a Berkeley office building. It started out as a six-story building. Then they discovered that they could provide the same space in twelve stories as cheaply as they could in building six stories over the entire lot. * Architect and Engineer, February 1926, refers to the building as 'office building for the Mercantile Trust Company, Berkeley." 73 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: I think they were intrigued with the concept and thought that it would give Berkeley business a focus, and identify them as well. Of course, in those days there were no restrictions on height. There weren't any comments, I guess, outside the drafting room, until construction got started. They went ahead and did this twelve -story building, and then, all of a sudden, the University got in the act, and they were horrified by the fact that there would be competition with the Campanile. Oh, so it was the University that was most outraged? Yes, the people who thought of this as a university town. They could just hardly stand anything that would compete with the Campanile, to identify Berkeley. However, it was too far along to stop at that point, so they went ahead and built it. He was criticized for that. It was not something that came under zoning or planning. You said there was a planning department. Yes, there was a planning ordinance but it did not stipulate a height limit. He really got in hot water with a lot of people at the University. 1 think there was a lot of talk in the newspaper and a lot of angry conversation. I don't think it ever got beyond that. Also then, I think, they began thinking about making a law putting a six story limit on any building in town. For a long time that held. Later it didn't. Now we're back to downgrading everything again. Did your father have immediate regrets? I don't think he did. I never felt that he was apologetic about it. I think he felt that it was a good building, and I don't think he felt that it damaged the University. I think his banking friends agreed with him. They felt that it was just a lot of hot water boiling. After a while, it cooled down. Was it admired in architectural circles? No, I never heard any comments of admiration from other architects. 1 think other architects were a little sensitive about the idea and were a little critical of the concept. They felt it was a little out of scale in Berkeley. I think that was really the basic criticism. OFFICE BUILDING FOR MERCANTILE TRUST COMPANY. BERKELEY W. H. RATCUFF. JR.. ARCHITECT 74 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: It was out of scale with the other buildings in Berkeley and, to that extent, out of place. At that time, I think, it was probably a valid criticism. What he was saying--! don't know what his business friends were sayingmaybe that this was the first of a breed, that there would be a lot more. There was the other side, probably Keeler and others, who were saying, "That's not where we want to go. We want to stay as a low- intensity community. We want to keep down the human scale. We don't want one of these great big tall buildings in our town." I think he might have agreed to that, after the dust settled. I don't know. Actually, I think it's a nice-looking building. It's restrained, carefully designed, and the use of brick and artificial stone is pleasing. For its time, it was a pretty creditable job. The basic criticism people had was the twelve story concept. A lot of time, things happen after the fact, because nobody really has a sense of what the implications are. I think the conversation and the uprising that occurred after that just precluded anybody else doing it again for a pretty long time. The outcry was by some pretty sensitive Berkeley citizens who saw this as a wrong direction. Charles Keeler was still around? Oh, yes, and he was a good friend of Keeler's. This would have an impact on him, you know. That would hurt. That would hurt, yes. So I think the criticism got to him. I don't think he would have done it twice. W. H. Ratcliff. Jr.. On the Job Riess : Robert Ratcliff: When he was doing the bank, that was a point where the Ratcliff office was big and booming? Yes, they were working across the street. I talked to him a little about the size of his office, and he had eight draftsmen from about 1920 to about 1930. That was a pretty big office in those days. 75 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Did he keep the same crew, or was that a lot of people rotating through? I think that the same crew was there most of the twenties. However, I am sure that a lot of people went through. He had a number of draftsmen before the war, and when they came back after the war they didn't come back to his office. [Charles] Hasten and [Lester] Kurd were among those. During the 1920s I remember meeting most of them, but the three I remember were [Art] Dudman and Scott Haymond and Hathaway Lovell . These are people that came out of UC? I think they all came from DC, yes. Did he give them a lot of training and responsibility? I think he did. However he did almost all the field supervision himself. In Berkeley, he used to run between jobs. He was a very good physical specimen, this crazy guy who would run from one job to another, rather than drive an automobile. You mean, if he had a job in north Berkeley, he would run to south Berkeley? He might run to it, yes. His office was centrally located on the corner of Center and Shattuck in the old First National Bank of Berkeley. It was on the second floor of this two-story building. It was torn down several years ago to build the second twelve -story building in Berkeley. Now there are two on that corner. The Great Western Building, right. So he actually ran to the job? How did he dress on the job? Was he in a white shirt and vest and tie? No. He would go to the office with a white shirt and coat and tie, but every time I saw him in the office, he had taken off his tie and his coat. He didn't run around Berkeley in a tie and a coat. He worked very hard. He got to work very early in the morning, got to the office and went through all the projects, leaving notes for each person before the day began. 76 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: So if he had eight draftsmen, he had probably eight different projects going? He might have had eight projects --probably he had more than eight projects, but eight projects that were in critical stages, I would assume. What would he do in terms of the design? Well, I rarely saw him with a harder pencil than Eagle drafting. I think he did a lot of free hand sketching. He probably used a T-square in the beginning, but when I knew him, he was deeply involved in design administration and supervision. Scott Haymond wrote a lot of the specs, although I think he also wrote specs himself. He was involved in every stage of the work, really. If he didn't do that much detailing in the beginning, then he counted on being on the job and able to make changes on the job? Well, the working drawings did not have a lot of detail. Details were generally full-sized during construction and actually, a lot of decisions were made on the job. Many more decisions were made then than are now. Today, you're supposed to make drawings that are complete. You supervise, to be sure they're carried out. In those days you made drawings , but in many of the details you expected to have a little leeway. In order to do that, you had to really keep up with the construction, so you were ahead of the boys a little bit. You had to know what was happening. He felt supervision was a very important aspect of the work. I must say I feel the same way today, even though the techniques have changed. It's still possible to make quite a difference if you give it careful supervision. It sort of reminds me of what I've always felt about photography --that I don't worry that much about the negative, because I know I can make the changes in the darkroom when I'm printing. On the other hand, I also think that if I made better negatives, I'd be a better photographer. The end product is the building, and you can't let it go until it's finished. 77 The Talent in the Office Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: He had some very talented guys working for him. He may have suggested the direction, and I'm sure that a lot of the credit for the quality of the work, and so on, goes to the people that worked for him. Did they get that credit from him? about that? Was he generous Yes, I think he was, but publications didn't give that kind of credit that I know of. That's one thing I feel a little sensitive about, too, because I feel as though when you work with a lot of highly trained people who are bright, good workers, good designers, they really deserve a lot more credit than they normally get. That certainly goes for today. Yet there is a tendency to simplify things down to one name, and give the credit to the office. It certainly was true with John Galen Howard, and I think it was true with most offices. In truth a lot of credit goes to the people who made the drawings during the time when things were being done, but that doesn't usually show up in the records somehow. At what point do you elevate someone who is one of your draftsmen to being one of your partners? Well, that's a good question. He didn't do it with any of them, did he? No, he didn't. As a matter of fact he decided early on, after he was with Jacobs, he didn't want any partners. He didn't want any partners, really, in anything he did. He didn't want a joint venture. He didn't want to become entangled with other people's problems. That's the key? He didn't want to be "entangled with other people's problems?" Maybe it is. He felt that being independent was really for him. That was central and important. Did he pay his draftsmen well? I don't know what they got. I imagine they got paid well. He was a very generous guy. I know that during the Depression the office went down to one man, Scott 78 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Haymond. Scott had no other income, and my father continued to pay Scott all the way through the Depression and through the World War and everything else, even though there was really no work in the office, because he somehow felt the urge to keep his doors open, for one, and also felt obligated to Scott for the work he had done during the twenties. Of the other eight, was Scott the last one he wanted to let go because he was the most talented? Well, he became the senior person in the office. Scott was a pretty complete fellow in many ways. He was very good at sketching. He was extremely quick, and he knew the code inside-out and backwards. He was good at the office work as well as the design work. When I knew Scott, I didn't really agree with his outlook on design, I didn't feel that he was giving enough thought to it. And my father also was critical of his design and thought that it wasn't as sensitive to proportions and details as it should be. But Scott was a very bright guy and an extremely capable person. Finally, we had a partnership called Ratcliff, Haymond, and Ratcliff, because Scott had been there with my father all this length of time, and I came into the picture suddenly at the end of World War II, and that seemed like an appropriate thing to do. I liked him very much, but he didn't do architecture the way I wanted to do it. Also, at the time I knew him he was contracting rather than expanding; I was going in the other direction. Mills College Work Riess: Robert Ratcliff: In many architects' lives, there's a three or four year period when they seem to do every big thing that they ever do. It seems that was the case with your father when he was doing the bank and Mills and some of his greatest houses, somewhere there between about 1923 and 1926. There were two periods when he did his major work. One was the decade before World War I and one was the decade after the World War I, and 99 percent of his work was done in those two decades. There was a little 79 Riess : Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: depression right after the war, but about 1920 things just started to take off. He got that assignment at Mills in '23, the assignment at Pacific School of Religion about the same time. Then in '25 he did the twelve-story building. Was he supervising the job at Mills? Oh, yes. Scott Haymond and he supervised everything at Mills. I went on a few of his supervision trips with him, when Mary Morris Hall was being built. I think that was 1929, so I was sixteen years old when Mary Morris was built. I went on to other trips out there. There were earlier things, too. He took over from a Maybeck plan. Yes, that was interesting to learn that Maybeck had done that. Your father made some revisions. He pretty well accepted the axis proposal, which was suggested in the Maybeck plan, and developed it to a greater extent. He used Maybeck' s original cruciform road system and incorporated the new facilities and buildings proposed by Dr. Reinhardt and the board in their ambitious expansion program of the 1920s, all of which his office designed. He took the concept that they keep the old buildings and adjust the plan to allow for that. The plan doesn't, as I see it, really read exactly the way it was drawn. But they kept old Mills Hall, which was, of course, a huge building, and a number of the other buildings were there. They started off with a new art building, and that became the big focus of the campus. They didn't complete it. They just did the first element. A Family Country House in Mendocino County. 1925 Riess: Robert Ratcliff: A big part of your early life was the house in Mendocino. How did that come to pass? By 1925 my parents were looking for a place to buy as a ranch house or a country home. When he finished the American Trust Building, which was the biggest single building contract he ever got though, I guess, perhaps the Mills College contract might have been, in total, a 80 Riess: larger contract- -he was feeling very flush and able to find four thousand dollars without too much trouble. What did it mean to have a country house? Robert Ratcliff: Oh, it was another place to go and get away from the urban scene, to get back to the earth. They were both very much interested in the out-of-doors, you know. Riess : But the pictures I've seen of Roble Road- -it was the country . Robert Ratcliff: Not really. It was getting built up. They put in Roble Court, and they built on our road. Burt O'Neill built next door to us , and that sort of wiped out a wonderful underground building that my brother and I had built. [laughter] They just felt the need to get into the country, somehow. [C.R.] At first they spent most of their time looking around Half Moon Bay, in the south, and up in the Napa Valley area. Then some artists, including my Aunt Florence, Ray Boynton, and a few others, went up the coast and stayed in a hotel in Gualala. It was called the Seaview Hotel at that time. They came back with sketches they had made and said they had been to the best place in California. They were just surprised nobody else had seen it. It was just absolutely a marvelous place. They had a showing of all their sketches and told of this great place. My parents were invited to the show, and they got so excited that the next weekend they went to Fort Bragg and drove down the coast, arriving in Point Arena on Saturday. They stayed at the Point Arena Hotel, which was then run by a man named Seymour. Mr. Seymour became interested and introduced them to a man who was working at the bank and who seemed to know about the properties . The next morning, this man took them down the coast to show them what was for sale between Point Arena and Gualala. As they went down the coast, they discovered everything was for sale. They came to this place, and they said, well, that looked like a pretty good place, let's look in there. The fellow said, "Aw, this is no good at all. I mean, it's only 381 acres. It's owned by some people named Morrison, and you can only run twenty- five head of cattle on it. It just isn't worth anything." Well, 81 they thought it looked very nice. They went down the coast further and looked at other things and came back. They said, "Well, this is really the best one you've shown us. Let's get out and look at it." So they walked up to where the Black Ranch house now is, and they were absolutely convinced. They looked around, walked up in the woods a little, in the back. They were just blown out of their minds. They thought it was the greatest. The man said that the Morrison family were having trouble. Mr. Morrison had died. Mrs. Morrison didn't want the place, and there were some sons who were arguing about it. They were going to have an auction next Friday, in Ukiah. They came back to Berkeley, and the whole idea grew and developed, so that on the next Friday they went to the auction in Ukiah. My father's lawyer told them that at an auction of this kind you had to have the money with you, and that it had to be in gold coin. Well, he went to the bank and got a sack of gold coins, about $4,000. They got in their old Overland automobile, and My said that anytime a car got within a hundred yards of them, they sped up to maybe thirty- five or forty miles an hour, because he was so sure that they were going to be robbed. Anyway, they got there and started the auction. One of the young relatives showed up, so there were two of them bidding. This man started off at, I don't know what, $1000 or so. My father raised him to $1015. Well, the auctioneer just blew his stack, and he said, "We're not going to take any small offers like that. You've got to make a substantial offer. We won't accept anything not substantial." My father said, "Okay, $2025." Anyway, after they settled down, the thing bid up to about $3800. And they got it. Then they presented the gold coins, and the auctioneer said, "What are you doing with those things? I mean, how do we know they're real?" [laughter] So they had to take them to the bank and have them verified. They got it cleared through the bank, came back to Berkeley, and planned the next weekend to take us all back to Point Arena, to show us the place. Everything was terribly exciting. We drove to Cloverdale and stayed at a hotel that was run by Pop McCray. We stayed 82 there many times, got to know him well. He was a very jovial great fat guy, with a great smile, and a lot of jokes and personality. We drove on to Point Arena the next day. We went down the coast to our place. They thought they knew where it was, but we drove back and forth a couple of times and then decided to go to McNamee's store. They, of course, knew the Morrison place, and we not only learned where it was but all about the local history from Jimmy McNamee. [end. C.R.] Solvent in the Depression Riess: Robert Ratcliff: Riess: Robert Ratcliff: You mentioned, when I was going out the door last time, that your father took over at the Fidelity in 1933. You said that he also did well in the stock market. Where does that fit in? At what time? He was a good businessman, and he made money as an architect, which was already kind of an unusual thing. He was also conservative in his money, because he had grown up in a family that had very little. That's not quite true, because some branches of his family were very wealthy, but in the English system, younger sons didn't inherit very much. His father was a younger son, so he didn't come away with a lot. And then, in the depression of 1893, they lost a lot of money, so this experience had made him very conservative. But that was a help during the Depression because when the Depression broke he had not invested in a lot of stocks and gone out on a limb trying to make money that way. He had put his money in the bank and had no loans or mortgages to pay on. So when everything came apart he had gold coins rather than stock certificates, and it made a big difference. He had gold coins? I mean his money was in the bank rather than in stocks, and so the stock market crash really didn't affect him, except that it affected his business. It just closed architecture down, closed his income and that sort of thing down, but his capital was secure. 83 IV ROBERT W. RATCLIFF'S STUDENT YEARS, MARRIAGE, AND WAR WORK [Interviewed by Christopher Ratcliff, December 1987] Entering Cal and the Agility Test. 1932 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: I probably should have entered college in the fall of ' 31 , but I had my appendix out . In those days that wiped you out for a few weeks, and so I decided to enter in January of '32. They gave the boys an agility test which was kind of interesting. The women did not have to do this-- No, they didn't. You had to swim a hundred yards , run a hundred yards , and go over an obstacle course, which involved climbing a wall that was ten feet high. Then you had to demonstrate that you could tumble. I had done all of these things, but I had never tumbled. Then you finished by fighting, by defending yourself either in fencing or boxing or wrestling. This meant that you had to go into the ring with one of the people on the University team. The alternate for this was taking a course in one of these subjects. So I took the course in boxing, which was a pretty strange and interesting experience. You took one course in boxing? Yes. You had to wear a helmet, right? Robert Ratcliff : No, you didn't wear a helmet. Stan Jones was the boxing professor, and he lined us up around this room according to weight. First you had to weigh in. I turned out to be one of the heaviest guys in the class, because I was matched up with the second heaviest fellow. We were paired off by weight and lined up around the room. This was a one-hour session. Ve did exercises for the first fifteen or twenty minutes, and we sparred. Stan taught us different positions, or stances. You had to stand with your left hand out and your right hand in a defensive position. That would be Position One. Position Two would be that you would jab with your left hand. Position Three would be jab with your right hand, and it went on. Then Stan would call these positions by number. One, Three, Two, Four - One, Four, Three, Two, and so on. Finally, toward the middle of the course, we began having a three -round match with a partner, and then, finally, at the end of all that, we would get down on the floor and do pushups until the last man dropped. Very often I was the last man. In those days I used to think I was very strong, [laughter] By current standards, 1 think I'm very weak. Entering Architecture, and Taking a Course in Public SpeakinE Robert Ratcliff: I entered architecture, and-- C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: You entered it right off. Yes, as a freshman. That's what you did in those days. I asked my father if he had to do college over, what elective course would he take? He said he would take a course in public speaking. So I went down and took a course in public speaking, thinking that was probably good advice. There was a professor named Flaherty who was very popular, the head of the department. I applied to get into his course but was too late. I got in with a fellow named Cretien, who I got to know well. I remember the first thing he said, "Okay, you don't know me, and I don't know you, so what I am going to ask you 85 C. Ratcliff: to do is to prepare a five -minute talk on one of the following subjects," and he listed several subjects on the board. Then I'm going to call on different people, and it won't be in alphabetical order. That way I'll get a feeling for what you can do." So I went home and really worked hard. I had it almost memorized. When he called my name I got up, and I drew an absolute blank. I couldn't think of a darned thing. He kept making suggestions: "Maybe you're thinking of this, or you're thinking of that--" The more he suggested, the worse it became. I went up after the class and told him that I practically memorized what I was going to say, and then I got absolutely frightened to death." He said, "Well, that's happened before. Don't worry about it. I'll call on you again. You prepared it once, you know the subject, just come and talk about it, and you probably won't have any trouble." Well, it happened. I never really had a serious problem of stage fright again. I learned the most valuable lesson in that course in the first week. Did your father encourage or discourage you from going into architecture? Robert Ratcliff: At first he encouraged me to look at all the options. C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: What did he tell you? Well, he told me that architecture wasn't the easiest way to make money. There were quicker and easier ways of making money. However, we went for walks in the hills, and we got to talk about it. He said, really, the reason he chose it was because he really didn't want to be a doctor and work on people who were in trouble. He didn't want to be a lawyer and work on people who had those kinds of problems. An architect really is working on new projects with people all the time, and it's a great, creative field. He felt that that was a more satisfactory way to spend your life and also that it was complicated and very demanding, which he felt was important. I liked what I heard and decided to go that direction. I entered UC Berkeley just after John Galen Howard had died. Warren Perry had become chairman of the department, and John Galen Howard's secretary, Bessie Sprague, was still the boss. She told all the 86 professors where to get on and get off. She knew my father because he had worked for John Galen Howard. She treated me as though I was one of her kids. I think she treated everybody that way. She was really a very demanding and bossy person but basically good-hearted and nice . Evelvn Paine. Architecture Student C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: [to Evelyn] Did you go right into architecture? Yes. Yes, I did. Why did you choose architecture? Well, I thought it looked interesting. Did your father have any influence on you about that? [Evelyn's father, Robert Paine, was a sculptor.] No, he never discussed college with me. Well, how did you pick architecture out of all- -why didn't you pick math? [Evelyn's mother was a mathematician. ] Oh, I wasn't that good in math, to major in math. I was fair. I wasn't really good at it. I could do it when someone showed me how. [laughter] That's about my math skills. Where did your exposure to architecture come from? Well, I don't really know. I really don't know what first put the idea in my head. I know I discussed it with Mr. Steilberg, and he discouraged me. He said, "It's very strenuous and a strenuous major." He didn't think I was strong enough to do it. It was a profession that, essentially, men were in. Very few women were in it. Were you aware of Julia Morgan at the time? Oh, yes. In fact, her nephew, Morgan North, went to the John Dewey School, and I knew him. They lived right down on Prospect Street. 87 C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: So did that have any influence? No, I don't think it did. I don't really know exactly where I got the idea. Was there any doubt? I mean, you signed up in architecture the first semester? Yes. I Just signed up. The curriculum was laid out for four years. You had about two electives, that was all. You had to choose, some time before you were a junior, you had to take something in the social sciences or something. I took Economics 1A-B to satisfy that requirement. What else was there? I took philosophy with George Adams, John Adams's father. He turned out to be a fantastic person and a very interesting person. His whole family was exciting. Coursework in Architecture and Art Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: [talking about studies] One course we took in architecture was with Aram Torossian. He was Armenian, and he spoke with an accent. I think probably he had left Armenia in the time when so many Armenians left, when the Turks were on the rampage. That first course, we went out and measured a thing on the campus . Then we had to do a measured drawing of it in ink. That was what it was. I remember going down to Hilgard Hall and measuring the front entrance and making an ink drawing of that doorway and the balcony above it. And then you had to do the details. 1 think you [Evelyn] were way ahead of me when you got into this because you had been at [the College of] Arts and Crafts. Well, I hadn't done anything like that, though. The thing that 1 did at Arts and Crafts that was helpful was that I had watercolor, and I had life drawing. Later, I didn't have to take life drawing over again. That was helpful to my career. Also, as a freshman I took Japanese art, taught by Perham Nahl , who was the son of 88 C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: [Charles Christian] Nahl, a painter of early California, whose paintings are down at the Oakland Museum. Was that because your mother was interested in Asian things? That exposure? I think everyone living here in California was somewhat exposed to Oriental art, perhaps more than other parts of the country. Vas Nahl the same guy who gave anatomy? Yes , and I took the art anatomy course , but then I was excused from doing the life drawing. Oh, I took life drawing from Nahl. He was a fairly old fellow. He got killed in an automobile accident while we were in college. He gave this course, over in the theater on the second floor at the south end of South Hall. It was a very steep little theater, so you looked down on your professor, standing on a stage. He had a blackboard behind him, and he was the most fantastic draftsman you just ever saw. He would draw a child. Then he'd say, "Now this child is five years old. When the child gets to be seven years old, it looks like this... When it gets to be ten years old, it looks like this... When it gets to be twenty years old, it looks like this... When it gets to be thirty years old, it looks like this..." clear on through life, on the same drawing, just changing the muscle formations. You just could hardly believe it, it was so accurate, and so absolutely real. In this course, we had to learn all the names of all the muscles and bones and everything in the body. It was an interesting course. People used to say, "Well, why would an architect need to know about that?" Well, probably an architect really doesn't have to know about that, but it was a related field, and I tell you, when it comes to observing and drawing, it made a big difference to me. That was one of the courses I really remember very well. The second major, basic, course in the curriculum was a course with Stafford Jory on the classic orders. Evelyn Ratcliff: We had that as sophomores, yes. 89 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Didn't you [Evelyn] take art with [Chiura] Obata? Yes, I did. It was required. Art 2A-B. A He was wonderful. We used to have meetings and invite different people over to talk to members of our architecture class. We invited him, I remember, to talk to us and to demonstrate. He brought over his rice paper and all his tools, and he stood up in front of us and told us that you can't draw anything that you don't know, really know. He told us about how as an artist in Japan what you had to do was to go out and really study something to the point where you absolutely knew everything about it. A flower, you see, or an animal. and draw it. And then you'd go in Yes. Once you got to the point where you really understood how that flower was made, and all its detail, then you were able to go ahead and draw it. So then he would demonstrate. It was just absolutely fabulous. He did fish and animals and flowers, all that kind of thing. Memories of Bennv Bufano Evelyn Ratcliff: [referring to a family memoir taped with C. Ratcliff] Earlier when I was talking about my childhood I left out Benny Bufano completely. Benny came out to California because when my father was out working at the 1915 fair he wrote to him and suggested that there was work for him out here. And I should tell how my father came out to work at the fair. That was because Sterling Calder, Peggy [Calder] Hayes's father, was in charge of all the sculpture for the fair, and he knew my father and invited him out. I think my father had probably enlarged pieces for him [Sterling Calder] in New York. That's very likely true. My father had met Benny Bufano first when he [Bufano] was a boy of about eleven years old. He lived near where my father had his studio in New York. He was interested in what was going on in the studio, and he came around. My father said he was a skillful modeler just right from the time he was a boy. Very skillful. 90 It just came naturally to him. Benny lived with us at the time I was born. He was living with us over on Virginia Street, and he did a head of me when I was three weeks old. After we moved up to Panoramic Way, Benny rented the house that the [Frederick] Benses have lived in for so many years. That's where he lived with his wife, and their baby, who was born a little later. We used to go --one of my pleasurable memories of childhood- -into Chinatown with Benny to the Republic Cafe, which is in the location of where Charlie Kan's restaurant is now. We would quite often go over there on a Sunday. We'd go on the ferryboat. I was pretty small, but I remember it very well. Benny became knowledgeable about Chinese things. He spent a good deal of time in China during the period of Sun Yat Sen's ascendancy. Evelyn and Bob. Meeting and Dating C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Had you met each other by then? Well, yes. We weren't in the same class, because Bob had started before me, but we ended up in the same class eventually as juniors. In Junior Design, we got in the same class. After a few semesters in college I realized that the courses in this curriculum were designed for people who entered in the fall, and not designed for somebody who entered in the middle of the year, in the wintertime. So it really wasn't very convenient. I wasn't getting as much as I would have gotten, had I been on the regular schedule. So I took six months off taking other elective courses, not in the basic architectural curriculum, and got back into the regular schedule. I dropped back six months in terms of the regular curriculum. At that point, we were in the same class. A fateful moment. Yes, a fateful moment. Yes, that's when Mike Goodman came and said that he introduced us . 91 Evelyn Ratcliff : C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Yes, that's right. He liked to say he introduced us. But we, of course, had known each other somewhat. In fact, I remember that you [Robert] waterbagged me once. I was very mad because it just messed up my hair, and I was going to something. I was mad. I was mad, I was. I remember telling the Eliels, because I'd see the Eliels from time to time, telling them. They asked me if I knew you now that I was in the architecture department. I said, "Yes, I do, but somehow we just don't seem to get along very well." [laughter] That was funny. I remember that very well. So in the junior year you ended up in the same class. Did you start to date at that point? Well, I think the first time you [Robert] asked me out, I think that was when I was a high sophomore. You invited me to a dance at your fraternity. That's the first time that I went out with him. But by fall we really started going out a lot. That summer I had my appendix out, when you went to Waddington. I remember your calling me. Could I have had a telephone in the hospital? Maybe I did. Anyway, those two things came right together: that you went to Waddington, and I had my appendix out. That's really when we started. By the time we were juniors, we were beginning to go out quite a bit. Where did you go? Well, we went to movies, and we went to house dances at the fraternity. We went for walks, as a matter of fact, too. We went for walks. That's what we did mostly. We went in beautiful places, for instance to Point Isabel where the Co-op warehouse is- -I think they've sold it to the post office sorting station- -down there on the waterfront. There was a little point that stuck out there, and there was an old farmhouse on it. There were a few trees, kind of windblown trees, and some rocks- -a beautiful little spot. They've taken all the natural features away now. Everything out there now is manmade. Recently we've discovered this lovely little area, China Camp State Park, as you leave San Rafael. The exit to 92 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: the county building is the same one as the exit to the China Camp State Park. When you go over there, you get onto the edge of the bay- -that's the east side- -and it's all natural looking, the way Point Isabel used to look. A beautiful, beautiful place. We have stopped there twice now, and we recommend it highly because it's an unspoiled piece of terrain, the way it used to look. There still is a shrimping operation going on there. Small. Used to be a big shrimping operation. Now, I'm kind of off the subject. We walked up in the Berkeley hills. We walked on that nice- -I think they call it Huckleberry Trail now. You go from Skyline Boulevard. It used to be a lovely walk. Frequently Cliff Holser walked with us. Cliff Holser was in the same class. He was a good friend. We did a lot of things together. Gryff Partridge was in the class behind me. He started out in my class, I think, behind. Somehow, he got Jack Wagstaff was in the class ahead. He was another close friend and really good guy. He's got some kids now that are spectacular. He's got about five or six children. Five sons. For a while I dated Jack Wagstaff, when I was about second-year in college. That went on for a while. [to Robert] Did you date in high school? Not much. I wasn't as gregarious as my brother Pete was. He went out every opportunity he got, and he made a lot of lady friends. I didn't really do that very much. I did go out, however, a few times in high school. I was kind of bashful about it. I just didn't feel comfortable going out and dancing and learning how to dance . To me , that was not quite the way I wanted to behave. Somehow or other, it took me a little while to get into the mood of doing it, so I didn't go out a great deal. In college, I didn't really date many other people except Evelyn. I went out once or twice with a gal named Lucretia Van Horn, whose mother was an artist 93 C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: friend of Aunt Florence's and whose father was Colonel [R.O.] Van Horn, the guy who ran the ROTC program at the University. ROTC. ROTC. You [Robert] had an experience with ROTC. ROTC, yes. I didn't distinguish myself in ROTC, either. It was a required subject. They have these damn inspections, and if your tie wasn't exactly straight you'd get a demerit, and if your hat wasn't on right, you might get an F for the day. I mean, it seemed ridiculous. Then you go out and march around the field. I rose to the level of private in the rear rank, and I never got beyond. The Harlev-Davidson Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: When I started college I needed transportation, and I went down and bought a motorcycle in Oakland, the biggest Harley-Davidson they made in 1926. It was an early model Harley-Davidson with these small tires. After the model I had, the tires got much larger, and the machines got more streamlined. This had a rectangular gas tank, and the later models had rounded gas tanks. They were a little fancier looking. This was a fine machine, and I drove it for at least three years, almost all the time I was in college. You bought it when you were a freshman, I think, we were dating, you had gotten rid of it. When I didn't keep it after I finally wound up underneath an automobile. I decided that that's as close as I wanted to come. I was coming down Tunnel, and right around the corner the street was being repaired on Domingo. The way they repaired streets in those days was they sprayed tar on them, and then they spread gravel on top of the tar. Well, they had just gotten to the point where they had got the tar sprayed out there and were beginning to put the gravel on it when I came around the corner. There were cars parked on both sides of the street. This repair was being done on the side that I was on, but there was an ice cream truck double-parked on 94 the other side of the street. Only one lane was available, but there was a car coming through on my lane. The brakes hit this loose gravel, and the thing skidded right out from under me and bounced off the front of this car, which wasn't going very quickly. As a matter of fact, the car was almost stopped. The driver was an elderly lady who practically passed out when this happened. I went feet first right underneath the car, and I ended up looking at the oil pan. I grabbed the bumper and pulled myself back out. The only thing I damaged was my pants. The motorcycle wasn't damaged. Anyway, I thought that that was about as close as I wanted to come. I bought the motorcycle for thirty- five dollars three years before. I never did anything but put gasoline and oil into it. Never had a repair. I sold it for thirty- five dollars, so I had free transportation for three years, and I still had my life. It was a hairy thing to drive in the wintertime. I remember going around that corner at Founder's Rock and Hearst Avenue. That was a very, very slick corner. Several times the darned thing just wouldn't hold on the slope, and it would just slip out. My tires were pretty smooth, and this was a very smooth piece of asphalt. I used to just climb up on the seat when it went out, and then I'd pick it up and go on. [laughs] Meeting the Families C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: How did you deal with the rest of your families as you were getting together? Well, we never had any opposition from our families. Oh, I thought I was received quite well by Evelyn's mother. I liked her. She was a wonderful woman. You saw her quite a bit. Yeah. Evelyn didn't want me to come to her house, because she was afraid I'd have to go to the bathroom, and the bathroom had been invented by her father, [laughter] What was wrong with the bathroom? 95 Evelyn Ratcliff : Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Well, he made it. I found it sort of embarrassing. I did find that embarrassing. It was up on the second floor of the building, and there was only one bathroom in their house. This toilet was mounted on a platform. He had gotten himself an old toilet bowl, and then he had rigged up a system of pipes that went up through the roof. He built himself a wooden tank on the roof, and there was a chain that came down from this through the roof. Well, it's sort of like the ones you went into in Europe . It was great. When you'd pull the chain, you could hear the water coming. Boy, when it hit the toilet, it was going fast. It was a very positive gesture! [laughing] Well, now, as a little footnote to that, my father had an awfully nice brother. He was one of nine children, but the only one I ever knew was Uncle Will. Uncle Will lived here in Berkeley and died when I was about sixteen. He used to call my father, whose name was Robert, Rob. "Well, Rob, if it was the first one that had ever been made, it would be pretty darned good." [ laughter] We used to sit in front of the little fireplace in the living room. It was a very small fireplace. It actually worked fairly well. I think it was the only heat in the house, and we would sit on these bamboo or rattan chairs on a kind of a love seat, or two-person type seat. It had pillows and rugs. Mrs. Paine collected rugs. That house was just like some old Armenian rug man's house with rugs stacked up on each other, two layers of rugs on everything. And all these seats had rugs on them. I remember that. The room had very few lights in it, if any. I'm not sure if it had any permanent fixtures. Well, there was one hanging over the fireplace. Was there a permanent fixture there? I've forgotten. I thought it was movable. I lived so close to school that I used to walk back and forth to the architecture building by myself, even at night. Now, I wouldn't want any of my children to do that. That's a little footnote we might put in, that 96 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Berkeley used to be a very safe place. There were never murders. We didn't even lock the doors. I don't think you could lock the doors. Well, you could, I think, but it was a very flimsy lock. It was a lock like we have on the door at the ranch, one where you push the little thing up and pull. A bolt. No, not a bolt, just a little thing that turns. You turn it back and push a little thing Op to keep it from turning. But it was very safe around here. There weren't crimes of violence. There weren't holdups, muggings, all that. Very rare that anything would happen. Year after year, no one was murdered, nobody was killed in Berkeley. Well, I don't ever remember a murder in Berkeley as a child. It's amazing how that whole side of our culture came. People didn't carry guns. Nothing like that. Nothing like drugs, none of that. Well, tell me, how did you get over to My and Pop's? Did you guys walk over after school? Most was walking. You didn't ride bicycles. I skated a lot. Your mother loaned you her car quite often. I think you'd come over at night to work. He'd [Robert] have that Chevy that belonged to your mother. So you both, really, lived at home rather than with your fraternity friends? Neither of us ever lived in the house. I never lived in my sorority. Bob never lived in his fraternity. We both lived at home the whole time. People did in those days. There wasn't all this having apartments and all that. 97 The "Clubby" Department of the Earlv 1930s Evelyn Ratcliff : C. Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Life in the architecture department in those days was very chummy and clubby and fun. We had a graduating class of eleven. There were about fifty- seven in my Arch 1 class. A lot of people got the idea they would like to major in architecture. Then they started it and decided it wasn't for them. So there was a big dropout rate. That's still true, about the same dropoff. We were over there, morning, noon, and night. There was a lot of foolishness going on, and it was really a very- -I think all of us who went through that remember it with sort of nostalgia, in a way, because it was like a little school. We used to work at night, and there was an apartment house right across the street. Every so often we'd see some romance going on in the windows of this apartment house, and I can remember turning the lights out and getting everybody up against the windows, and opening the windows, and you'd see some guy kissing some gal. It was silhouetted against the window, so well. I remember that Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: And we'd all go, "One, two, three," and just yell, "Ro mance!" Then these people would pull away and-- And then call the cops sometimes, because of noise. They'd call the cops on us. We made too much noise. They called the cops on us a few times for waterbagging people on Hearst, which was probably a good thing. The watercolor roomit was second floor, over the junior room- -that was a good place to throw waterbags from. I can remember when Torossian was having a class picture made. They were all lined up, and he's got this photographer out in front. We got up in the watercolor room, and we waterbagged these guys as they were doing their picture. Well, also, we had modeling up there. "Mud," they called it. We always called the modeling class "Mud." We had plasticene, modeling clay. People would take 98 Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: C. Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: Evelyn Ratcliff: Robert Ratcliff: little pellets and throw it out the window. That was another verboten thing. We studied with old man [Earle] Cummings. He was a sculptor, a friend of my father's. Who were your other professors? You had Goodman. Goodman just came a few years before we got there. Yes, he hadn't been there very long. He was a graduate of the department. We had Aram Torossian and Ray Jeans. And Warren Perry. We had two professors whose initials were W.C. "Water-Closet" W.C. Perry and "Water-Closet" W.C. Hays. Yes, the W.C. initials. Very appropriate, we always felt, for an architecture professor. Old Water-Closet Hays had dated my mother when she was a young gal. Actually, he was quite a bit older. He was older than Pop, I think. She said, "When he first came and dated me, I told him that it couldn't be a serious thing," so he went on and dated two of her sisters. They both turned him down. He finally found a gal. [End C. Ratcliff interview] Riess: Robert Ratcliff: A Member of the Order of the Golden Bear [Interview 3: May 10, 1989 ]##* How is it that you became a member of the Golden Bear Society? Oh, it was a surprise to me. I didn't really know what the organization was. It used to be a secret organization. It isn't any longer. It's made up of students and administrators and faculty members who meet once a week to discuss the University. The concept is that it's a forum where people discuss issues that are important to the University. Hereafter, only Riess and Robert Ratcliff are present in the interviews. 99 One day I was walking across the campus, and a friend of mine came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. He said, "You are called to the Order of the Golden Bear." And I said, "Dana [Raymond], what are you talking about?!" He wouldn't say more, but that I should come to 'this meeting. So I came to the meeting, and I was greeted by Hob [Harley] Stevens, class of '22. I was so surprised that he was there. I said, "What the Sam Hill are you doing here?" Then I began to discover that I knew almost everybody in the place. It was really an exciting experience. The meetings occurred every week. Sproul and Deutsch attended every meeting, with other campus VIPs. It was just an exciting group of people. We discussed the real issues on campus and in Sacramento. Riess: Presumably, Sproul and Deutsch gleaned the sense of the students? Ratcliff: They took part in the conversations, and they answered questions. There was a fellow there named Stanley Moore, a classmate of mine, who was very antagonistic toward the administration. He was terribly critical of Sproul. I mean, he was just really wild. He was a kind of an activist, in a sense. Very bright guy, extremely articulate and a wonderful debater, but he did things that really embarrassed me and embarrassed a lot of the other people in the group in the way he attacked Sproul. Riess: Because they were not gentlemanly? Ratcliff: Well, I didn't think they were fair or accurate, and I didn't feel that they were appropriate. It hurt Sproul- -one of the few things that I've ever seen happen to him that made him very unhappy . Riess: Was it a situation where he would defend himself- -Sproul? Ratcliff: Oh, yes, Sproul defended himself. Everybody else, practically, defended Sproul, too. Riess: What were the issues? Ratcliff: Oh, I can't really remember. They had to do with the way he was administrating the University, the priorities he had, and what were his real objectives. Things of that kind. I guess I shouldn't really have mentioned this with Moore. It's really almost the only negative thing that happened in 100 that whole time I was involved. And one of the greatest things was really getting to know some of these people like Deutsch and Sproul. Riess: Did you represent some collective group? Ratcliff: I don't think I felt that I did represent any group, although I was chairman of the student architectural association at that time. I don't think they felt that they were a political group at all, that they had any real concern about what was going on in Sacramento or anything of the kind, or what the University might be thinking about or doing. The architects, like neighborhood associations, had a little association, and we talked about our own problems . Attemotine to Chanee the Architecture Department Curriculum Ratcliff: But what happened was, it gave me an opportunity to talk to Deutsch and to Sproul about what concerned me over in the architecture department, which I might not otherwise have felt so free to do. Riess: Would you talk in Golden Bear about that? Ratcliff: No, I didn't bring it up in the Order, because I didn't feel it was something that they would be concerned about. The principal thing that I was concerned about was that the architectural school was lagging behind the rest of the world in recognizing that there had been some basic changes in the outlook of people toward modern architecture, what the next generation really had to offer. The curriculum was tied to the Beaux Arts system. Practically the entire faculty had studied under the old Beaux Arts rules and in the Beaux Arts system, and they were not focused on modern architecture at all. I can remember being very frustrated because on the outside we heard and read about Gropius and Breuer and Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright. And all these people were talking about contemporary architecture. Whereas on the inside the guys we were studying with were not. When we were seniors Warren Perry gave us a project: "Design a palace in the manner of Peruzzi." Peruzzi was a contemporary of Michelangelo! This was at the same time that the Bauhaus was going, Mies van der Rohe! All these people were doing things in what I thought was a very exciting area. We weren't exposed to this at all. And 101 it wasn't just Warren Perry, it was the whole department. Stafford Jory, all these guys had grown up in the Beaux Arts. One of the few people that hadn't was Mike Goodman, and Mike was a new member of the faculty. He made a difference, too. That was good, because it brought a different light into the situation. Howard Moise had come from New York as a full professor to fill the vacancy that John Galen Howard had left when he died. When he came, he gave his inaugural address to us and said he thought that the reason that he'd been asked to come was because he felt he had distinguished himself as an exponent of Gothic architecture. He had been in charge of details and design of St. John the Divine in New York, a Gothic building. That was okay, except that wasn't the only place where our interests were focused. Our undergraduate time was focused a great deal on architectural history. I've come to feel that that was a valuable experience as I've gotten older, and as I've been to Europe and seen things I understood and really knew a lot about. One of the questions in the state examination when I took it was, "Name five architects who worked on the Louvre. Tell what they did and compare their results." Now think about that as being an important thing for an architect to know! A big change has taken place in where we're looking. I knew the answer to that question then, but I'll bet you couldn't find anybody who would know that coming out of school today. Well, that was one part of it. I'm sort of diverting a little bit. Another thing that I felt was frustrating was that we took engineering in one place and architecture in another, and we never had a project which involved both engineering and architecture. By one definition, "architectural design is beautiful engineering," and yet we never found out whether we would find a million pound stress in a house or a multi- story building. We never really approached a project from the point of view of a beautifully-engineered structure, as you would a bridge. We could at least have given some thought to this. I went to Warren Perry and told him that a number of us felt the need to study how to integrate engineering and architectural design. We thought that the subject ought to be discussed and hoped that someday classes would be organized so this kind of thing would be addressed. Warren Perry said that that was an interesting idea, and he was pleased that we were thinking about things and that they would take it under advisement. 102 Then I went and talked to Deutsch about it and said, "What do we do about something like this? We students think something ought to change." Deutsch said, "You know, this is a matter that must come from the faculty. It can't come from the students. The faculty are the ones that organize the program and set all these standards." Then in my naive way- -I'm sort of embarrassed, now, to think back over it- -I thought I was in a blind alley. There was an architectural alumni association, and Steilberg was a member. So I went to Steilberg. I knew that he was both an engineer and an architect, so that I thought he'd be receptive to the kind of idea. He was all for it, he thought that was just great, so he wrote a letter to the University urging them to change the curriculum. Well, it didn't change until after I graduated, but it's changed now. Stiles Hall, and Campus Politics Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Were you at Stiles Hall in that same period? figure in things? How did that Riess: Ratcliff: I didn't do much in Stiles Hall when I was an undergraduate. I got involved in Stiles Hall deeply right after I graduated, but not very much during the time I was an undergraduate. Deeply? Well, I got on the advisory board and was there for a long time. I was introduced to it by Bill Davis, who was in Stiles Hall and also in the Golden Bear. Bill Davis was one of the anchormen in the Golden Bear. He was a tremendous person, assistant to Harry Kingman at Stiles. Those two guys got me involved. Bill [William F. ) Shepard was another, but he came along later. Did you have the feeling when you were in Stiles Hall that you were in a socially-conscious group, the leading liberal edge? Yes, very much so. Stiles was trying to pick up where the University left off. The University had some rigid rules about what could happen on campus and what could not happen. That created a certain amount of tension among people who felt that it should be more liberal, that it should be a place where an open democratic attitude existed, where people had an opportunity to speak about anything, and anybody could speak. That wasn't the case then, and that's where Stiles Hall picked up and became a "Hyde Park corner," where you could do 103 anything. It functioned as a student refuge. If you could prove you were a student or a member of a student organization, you could hold a meeting there on any subject. Riess: In this period, how would you describe yourself politically? Ratcliff: Veil, I was developing away from a Republican background, which caused a little strife at home. Riess: You were becoming a Democrat? Ratcliff: Yes. However, I don't feel that I was really focused on party politics in that sense. I never felt completely comfortable being sort of wedded to one party or the other. At that time, I was a liberal, and I guess I've always been classed as a liberal. However, today I think I'd be seen as a conservative. I was interested in knowing about communism. I thought it was something that we ought to know about. We used to have conversations about Karl Marx. I was never convinced that his ideas would work. On the other hand, Lenin had some ideas that I thought were pretty good. I still do. Riess: When were you reading Marx and Lenin? Ratcliff: Oh, when I was a sophomore or a junior. This was a subject a lot of people talked about. It wasn't verboten, really. Riess: In your fraternity, for instance, they might have even talked about it? Ratcliff: Generally, our fraternity didn't talk about it. I was an Alpha Delt. A few people in there, Johnny Landon and others, who had questioning minds and were very interesting people, they did. European Tour and Architectural Influences Riess: Ratcliff: Can I fast forward a bit? Europe? When you graduated, you went to I tell you what happened. I was at dinner with Harley Stevens in San Francisco. We talked about different things, and I told him of my interest in going to Europe. He was one of the vice- presidents of Standard Oil. He had risen like a giant, practically, in Standard Oil. He was really a bright guy, and very articulate. He began telling me what I ought to do when I went to Europe, and to tell me that he had a friend named Roland Riggs who was going to go over to Europe, who was about as knowledgeable as anybody could be about Europe. He 104 introduced me to this man, who was quite a bit older than I was. He was a lieutenant commander in the navy. My parents had said that they would sponsor the trip, which, of course, was a wonderful thing. As I told you before, I'm almost embarrassed by the fact that I could practically rub my little ball and get anything I wanted. They were, fortunately, able to afford it and were interested and wanted to do it. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I agreed, and Roland Riggs and I decided to go to Europe. Riess: He was just taking a period of time off? Ratcliff: He had taken many trips before. He was retired, and this was a thing he was interested in doing. He must have been close to the age of my parents. He was a much older person. Riess: Did he come over and meet your parents, and all of that? Ratcliff: Oh, yeah, we had met, and we talked all about it. I then took a train and went across the country and met him in New York. Riess : New York was new for you? Ratcliff: It was the first time I had been out of California. I was a novice when it came to traveling. It was really fun to see New York. ** Riess: While in New York, did you sketch? Ratcliff: No, I didn't. I didn't really spend nearly enough time there. I went up in the Empire State Building, which was the big, fancy building at that point. I went to the Metropolitan Museum and walked around the park and went down to Wall Street and just did a few of the things tourists do. Riess: Had you conceived this trip as the architect's grand tour? Ratcliff: My principal interest was seeing the architecture, but I didn't conceive of it as a study trip. My father had considered it as a study trip when he went over. But I'll tell you, with an architectural history background it becomes a study trip. That's about all I really did, almost, on the whole trip, is look at buildings in the different areas we went to. We first went to Gibraltar and then went up to Seville. The revolution started while we were there, and they kicked us out. We had to go back to Gibraltar and wait for the next boat, the Conte di Savoia, to go to Italy. But we did spend time in Seville and Cordoba and Granada, which was very 105 memorable and really quite exciting. Those old buildings are just marvelous. Riess: What were the strongest impressions that you got? Maybe they weren't architectural? Ratcliff: Many of them weren't, but many buildings left tremendously strong impressions. We went by bus through southern Spain, through the various different little communities. It was exciting to get into these tiny towns. The bus almost didn't fit in the streets, they were so narrow. But these wonderful little houses, and the people--. Riess: It wasn't a tourist bus, was it? Ratcliff: No, it had chickens in the back, and it was a regular commuting bus. That was a very exciting thing. When we got to Naples I did the tourist things, climbed Mount Vesuvius, went to the Amalfi Drive, went swimming in the Blue Grotto, and did a few things like that which I remember very well and enjoyed. Then we went to Rome- -I'm going to skip, because we don't want to spend a lot of time on this-- spent about ten days in Rome, which was one of the most exciting parts of the whole trip, because I knew a lot of the buildings. I had drawn them for Stafford Jory as an undergraduate. We had studied with Bill [William C.] Hays and gone through all the buildings of significance in Rome. It was terribly exciting to see them. We saw Mussolini and heard him give a big speech at Palazzo Venezia. Evelyn's father had enlarged all the sculpture on the Victor Emanuel Monument which I was very interested in seeing. And then, of course, ancient Roman ruins--! don't know why it is that these old, broken monuments have such an enormous attraction. They're beautiful things. So those made a deep impression. We went up through the hill towns to Venice, down to Dubrovnik on a boat. And then we went up into Germany: Oberammergau, Garmisch, climbed the Zugspitz, and went to Neuschwanstein and all these great old Bavarian castles. Riess: What was Roland Rigg's role? Was he a very good guide? Ratcliff: He was a good guide. He wanted to go and refresh his memory in these places and meet friends. He had a lot of friends. This was right when Hitler was doing things in Germany in a pretty serious way, and they had already had the disturbances in Munich, and there were already monuments where people had been killed. You had to give the Nazi salute when you passed those monuments. It was a little frightening, and it became very obvious that there was a terrible situation developing. The 106 Olympic Games had taken place that year in Berlin, and Jesse Owens had won all these things but had been snubbed by Hitler. Things like this were powerful messages. In any case, Berlin was a wonderful city then, and 1 spent several days there. Riess: Did he have introductions to Germans, and did that get to be an awkward situation? Ratcliff: Yes, he did have. It was interesting. Riess: Did you find yourself having to keep quiet? Ratcliff: No, I didn't, and he didn't, either. He knew Germans who were in very high places, as a matter of fact, and I met one or two of them. At that time Riggs was very worried about Russia. He was less worried about Germany than he was about Russia. His feeling was that Russia was going to take over very shortly and that the Germans recognized this. As a matter of fact, he supported the German position because he felt the Russians were the big danger in the long run. That bothered me a little bit, because while I didn't know nearly as much about it as he did, I felt that the Germans were the present big thing to worry about. He made an effort to change my mind, which is okay, but we never did agree. In any case, then I went to Paris for a while. I didn't travel all the time with him. I traveled in France by myself. Riess: Were you seeing International-style buildings and Bauhaus buildings? Ratcliff: I didn't see any Bauhaus buildings. I expected to, but I didn't see any. By that time, the Bauhaus had moved to Dessau, and I didn't get to Dessau. Riess: How about Corbusier in France? Ratcliff: No, I didn't see any of his work at that time. Riess: Is that because you weren't sufficiently tuned in? Ratcliff: Mostly because I wasn't sufficiently prepared to know where to look, I guess. Anyway, the other very quick thing--! went to Copenhagen, to Stockholm, and to England. This was not with Riggs. I have family in Leamington, and I decided I'd like to go there. My aunt drove me all over the Midlands, it seemed. We saw villages, the cottages and cathedrals that she thought were interesting. It was not modern architecture at all, but it was English architecture, which I'll have to say is pretty fine. 107 The whole countryside there is just so beautiful. I was impressed. I hadn't realized, somehow, that it was as good as I thought it was, at that time. Riess: What would you say were the two architectural influences that really stuck with you through your whole life? Was there anything you saw in Spain that you've actually put into buildings since, or anything that you saw in those English countryside dwellings that became part of your vocabulary as an architect? Ratcliff: Well, I don't think there were any details I could say became a part of my vocabulary, but 1 guess what I think happens, when you look at these things , is in the Spanish architecture you see an earthy approach to use of materials and the way they somehow fit into the landscape, so that the building really becomes a kind of a natural expression of forms and materials that really relate to the place where they were built. I guess from Spanish architecture I feel that all the colors and the whole character of the work is inspired, somehow, by the character of the places where it is built. That isn't entirely true in urban settings, but I think it is true of the villages and the domestic architecture. Charles V came down there with his Holy Roman Empire. He started doing things in his way, and the Moors had come in from the other direction, doing the things their way. A very interesting weaving together of two cultures, and the architecture took place, heavily influenced by the natural environment. I felt that a lot of Spanish architecture shows the influence of a political situation. It expresses something very clearly about what happened and how people live. Finding a Job--Mavhew and Hasten and Hurd Riess: When you were looking for work when you returned from Europe, who would you most like to have worked for? Ratcliff: I wanted to work for Wurster, for one. He was the first one. He never invited me to join his firm, but I would have liked to have done that. There were several people that I thought did nice work. A fellow named [Clarence] Tantau--! never worked for him, but I applied. Riess: How about Gardner Dailey? 108 Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Of course, Gardner Dailey was another one. I really liked Gardner Dailey, and I never worked with Gardner Dailey, though I applied often enough to get to know him. When you were applying to work for these people did you talk directly with Wurster and Dailey? Oh, sure. Architects were generally very good about this. I found that I always talked to the head man. Could you have worked for Wurster if you had been willing to work for next to nothing? I didn't put it on that basis, and I don't think so. I think I just didn't come at the right time. I knew a lot of people who worked for him, and I knew Theodore [Bernard!]. It wasn't a matter of not being acquainted and not being friendly. It was a matter of just not coordinating with him. I finally came to this side of the bay and got my first job with Clarence Mayhew, who had something to do. I didn't even know who he was, but I went and applied and got a job. There was one other person working there named Van der Kar. He's in Los Angeles at this point. He's older than I am, and he was older than Clarence, too. the show for Clarence . He was really kind of running Riess: Mayhew opened his private practice in 1934. I wonder how. He had some good friends in Piedmont, I don't know what class --do you happen to know what class he was at Cal? He graduated in 1927. He went to Cal and first worked for Miller and Pflueger in the city. Maybe they didn't need him anymore , and then he came over here . Probably. The problem was that people didn't have big backlogs of work in those days. They hired you for the job, practically. "We've got a building to do," and you'd go and work there for three months. It was hard to find work. It was sort of like the contracting business was in those days. If you were a carpenter, you just got switched around between different contractors. The other person I know who worked for Mayhew was Vernon DeMars . Ratcliff: I didn't know that. 109 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: He says that he was working for Mayhew doing- -this is the quote--"doing eclectic English half-timber stuff in Piedmont and just bored to tears doing it." That's right, [laughing] That's right. He said, "I worked all alone doing that, and it didn't seem very important." Was that somewhat descriptive? That's the sort of description I would have, too. Vernon worked there before I did, I think, because Vernon' s older than I am. I don't think Van worked with Vernon. Van der Kar also was much more interested in doing modern architecture. He wasn't interested in half -timber at all. He was having a strong influence on Mayhew at that time. Mayhew didn't really invent any of the things he did. I think he just did what his clients asked. I see that Mayhew and [Serge] Chermayeff did a house together in Oakland. Ratcliff: That was a strange thing, I thought, in a way. That happened after I left his office. Clarence got married to a lady in Piedmont, and they needed a house. It was fortunate that he married a gal who had a lot of money. Clarence's father was a contractor, and I don't think they had a great deal of money, but this gal did, apparently. So he hired Chermayeff to design his house. Riess: Ratcliff: Chermayeff designed a house which was an interesting house. It's in two separate rectangular sections, connected by a staircase. It's on a steep hill. It's a nice solution, but it's anything but English cottage-style. It is Chermayeff. You know Chermayeff 's work. Chermayeff is very much more like Mies than he is like anyone else. I was pretty fresh out of school when I worked for Mayhew, and I worked there for a little more than a year. Then when they ran out of work I began searching again in San Francisco and found a job with Mas ten and Hurd. They had been in your father's office earlier. Yes, before World War I. They were both working in his office. Then they joined the army, and they both went to France together, and both became captains of their platoons or companies. They were stationed together all through the war, so when one company did something, they both went together. They were real buddies. They decided, when they came back-- 110 neither one of them had been hurt, but they had seen action and had a lot of fun in Paris together, and they came back and decided to be partners. They started a firm right after they got back. Riess: Hasten and Kurd's work then in the late thirties is described as streamline moderne. Ratcliff: That's pretty accurate, [laughing] However, I worked on a residence for Hasten when he built his own house out in San Francisco. It was English cottage style. That was really where he felt most comfortable, I think. He was a lovely person. Riess: What did you learn from your tenure with them? Ratcliff: Well, just about everything I knew, really. Riess: Hore so than with Hayhew. Ratcliff: Oh, yes, because I was there a much longer time. After I left Hasten and Hurd the war broke out, and that was about the end of things . if Between Hayhew and Hasten and Hurd, I got four years of experience and took the state license examination. That's actually the last time I ever worked in another office. So I got almost all the experience I had with Hasten and Hurd. Riess: That's the examination where you had to name the architects of the Louvre? Ratcliff: Yes, that's right. Riess: You had just taken that and then came the war? Ratcliff: I got my license in 1941. The war had already started, and you had to have priorities to get materials, and architecture was just about stopped. We had two children by that time, and Evelyn was sure that if I went to Europe I'd never come back. It made her hysterical, practically. So I decided the only other option was to do something that was essential here in this country. That's when I applied to work on the Pacific Naval Air Base . Riess: Let me just go back a minute and ask: during that time when you were working for Hasten and Hurd, were there opportunities presented to you to become involved in Farm Security or Rural Rehabilitation Administration work? Ill Ratcliff : No. Let me tell you what we did. The first thing that happened was they got involved in the Public Works Administration, the PWA. They got some schools to do. Several, as a matter of fact. They were very substantial jobs. I never got deeply involved in the design of these schools. I was mostly making preliminary plans and working drawings. Also, I had lots of conversations, principally with Hasten. Lester Hurd spent more time out of the office looking for work, and Hasten spent more of his time in the office, somehow taking care of the details and coming over and talking about what to do and see how you did it. He held my hand a great deal, and it really was very helpful. There was another guy named Jim Johnson, who was a brother-in-law of Scott Haymond, who worked for my father. Jim was hired as the office manager. I was hired before Jim, but when the work started to build up and these schools started to come in and the office grew up a little bit, then they hired Jim to be the office manager- specif ication writer person that would look after details and answer questions. Then Steve Allen came to work. Steve and 1 sat at desks beside each other for a long time. Steve didn't know too much about things either. Steve was a better draftsman than I was. He was much better at making sketches than I was, so they got him to doing a lot of that sort of thing. Then there was a fellow named Ralph Pollock who joined. He was older than I was by quite a few years, actually. He was a licensed architect and a very, very nice guy who was extremely helpful. Then a guy named Hac Harper came along, and old Hac Harper took a special liking to me for some reason. Hac was a project architect. I was assigned to him, and one thing we did together was the University Press Building, on the corner of Oxford and Center in Berkeley. He was really extremely helpful. I learned a lot from him. I must hand it to Hasten and Hurd. They made it possible for a young person to come in and really grow. Being in a generous office was a very nice thing. I have felt indebted to them ever since. Riess: It sounds like there was a building boom right then. Ratcliff: Well, every office didn't have this opportunity, but Lester Hurd had friends in the navy in Washington and contacts in Sacramento. They somehow were able to get several projects. Hy first project to do as a project architect was a one-room school in Weaverville. Sort of a ridiculous little thing, you 112 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: know, about the size of a four-car or six-car garage, a tiny little house. Did it incorporate a lot of thought? Oh, yes, it certainly did. Hasten sat with me and told me what he felt we should do, and how he thought we should do it. He was just an awfully nice guy. Well, the streamline moderne firehouse in Redding, design was that? Whose I don't know. I think modern architecture was not something that Hasten and Kurd really understood. I think to them it was a fad which was characterized by a certain kind of "modern" detail, or lack of detail, an overemphasis on simplicity. Actually, the things that they were doing at that time certainly were not lasting ideas. I didn't feel then that they really were getting much of a thrill out of it. Some other architects seem to be inspired by new ideas, rather than "brought to the table," in a sense, as I felt they were. But it was natural because they grew up in a whole different atmosphere . Telesis Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: What was your impression of Telesis and the people who were involved? Oh, that was a great organization. It was a collection of inspired people, and 1 thought it was a wonderful organization. It was a wonderful organization, but what did it really do? It was a forum for a lot of people. For me, it was a contact with a world of ideas. I felt strengthened by associating with the people whom I felt had exciting ideas and who were doing things I admired. This organization had a focus and an interest that brought together a lot of people whose ideas were developing along the same lines, and who had a lot of vitality and interest. Planning, for instance? Yes, planning was a major emphasis. Even though as an organization it didn't survive, the ideas have survived. The 113 fact that everybody got together as a group strengthened their ideas. Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: By "everybody, disciplines. you're talking about a different bunch of Yes, different disciplines. One of the ideas that they had in the early days of Telesis is there might have been an organized center in San Francisco where landscapers and planners and architects all were in the same building, functioning in some ideal way. That must have appealed to you. Did you attend meetings? I went to some. I was never an active member. As I remember, most of the meetings were in San Francisco. They were a little far away, and I wasn't as active as I probably should have been. Were they considered to be controversial? Yes. I think it was seen as the cutting edge, an extension of the Bauhaus principles. The establishment didn't agree with Gropius. My old man didn't really agree with Gropius. I'm pretty sure Steilberg didn't. But I thought that what characterized Telesis was the idea of planning for people, which is more of a political or economic concept. Well, from that point of view I think, there was widespread agreement . I had an aunt who was deeply involved in Telesis, my mother's sister, Florence Swift. She was much involved in it. Supporting it financially? I think she did. She was an active member and an enthusiastic supporter. She was an artist. It had membership other than architects and planners. Imogen Cunningham also supported it strongly. Her son was a member, I know. Gryff [Partridge] was, yes. 114 Alameda Naval Base- -Salvaging a Dredge Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Anyway, then you got your job at the Alameda Naval Base, was a little bit far afield, maybe? That It was an interim experience that lasted a long time, up until 1945 --August 15, 1945, which was V-J Day. Did that take pull to get that job? No. What happened then was that, as 1 was telling you a moment ago, Evelyn was nervous and she wanted me to see if I couldn't find something that I could do at home rather than go into the army. 1 heard about this project with the company called Hawaiian Raymond Turner, contractors for the Pacific naval air bases. The Hawaiian Dredging Company, Raymond Concrete File Company, and Turner Construction Company got together in a consortium to build all of the Pacific naval air bases, the permanent bases which were designed by Albert Kahn, mostly. Some of them in Hawaii were designed by W.D. Dickie. Albert Kahn at that time had the biggest office in the United States, not necessarily the most advanced architecture but at least one of the best organized offices I've ever seen in my life. Anyway, I was interviewed by the chief engineer, a fellow named Russ Fairbairn at the Alameda Naval Air Station. They had the assignment by the navy of organizing all the structural, mechanical, electrical components of all these buildings, actually taking off materials and sending them to the various different islands for the projects, designing preconstructed elements and making components of parts for each building. It was an engineering job. It was not an architectural job. So I listened, and he said, "What do you know about structural engineering?" I said I had studied some structural engineering in architectural courses, in college. Then he said, "Did you ever work for a structural engineer?" and I said no. He said, "In other words, you don't know anything about it." I said, "Well, I guess that's right." So he said, "What do you know about electrical?" and I said, "Well, it's the same thing." "What do you know about mechanical?" I said, "That's the same thing." "In other words, you really don't know anything about engineering. " 115 I said, "Well, okay, I guess that's probably right. All I can say is that I've had some experience in college and a very limited experience, really, in architecture, but I know the formulas, and I know how to draw. That's about all 1 can say." "Well," he said, "we've got to get an engineer. I don't think you can fill this bill, but I'll give it consideration." I thought, "Oh, well, that's not going to work, and I can't see how I can possibly get that job." The next day he called and said, "How about coming to work?" I said, "After that interview, you want me to come to work?!" [laughing] Yeah, he did. So I went out. They put me in the mechanical engineering department and introduced me to Jim Evans, the head of the department. Well, it worked out pretty well. I went back and took some courses at Cal to get a little more information about practical mechanical engineering, and I worked with Jim Evans. He was basically an electrical engineer, but he was also mechanical. Then they got into problems of putting these things together, and they had three other people in the mechanical department. I could draw better than they could. So everything that had to be assembled or be drawn, I got to do. It developed that Russ Fairbairn was living at the Claremont Hotel. He drove to work every day and invited me to ride with him. So I got to know him very well. He was really a good guy. I finally decided to ask him about that interview. I told him that I had told my wife there was no way I could get a job there. And he said, "I just liked the way you talked." [laughing] Then a fight developed within the organization between Jim Evans and Jack Worden, who was the office manager, and Jim Evans quit. Fairbairn put me in charge of the mechanical engineering department. I really didn't know much mechanical engineering, but by that time I knew enough about systems and so on to do what was needed. Just a couple of weeks after that happened, the Dredge Harris, which was a thirty- inch suction dredge, sank in Honolulu harbor. Somebody had opened the scroll on the big pump and the dredge sank in thirty feet of water in the entrance to the harbor. The navy came to our off ice --we were supervised by the navy- -and told us to get another dredge out there immediately to take the place of the Dredge Harris. So now I'm head of the mechanical engineering department, and all of a sudden, I'm called into the commander's office, along with 116 Russ Fairbairn, and told, "Get a dredge to Honolulu, immediately!" Oh, boy, I had never been on a dredge. I had never been closer than a mile to a dredge. I didn't know anything about them. So they turned to me and said, "Okay, get a dredge. It's your job." I went to my desk, got a telephone book and looked up "dredges." [laughter] I found the San Francisco Dredge Company, called them up, and I got the head man, named Fred Muhs , on the telephone. I said, "I'm calling about replacing the Dredge Harris which was sunk in Honolulu harbor." He said he knew about that. Then I said, "Well, we have an order from the navy to try to find a dredge and get it out there as quickly as possible." He said he expected that. I mean, these dredge people have their ears to the ground. Then I asked him what he could tell me about the availability of a dredge. "Well," he said, "There are not very many dredge people on the Pacific Coast. There's a guy in Los Angeles and a guy in Santa Barbara and two guys here in San Francisco. That's just about all there are. We have already analyzed the situation, and there's really only one dredge that's going to be available. It's an old one, and it's called the Dredge Me/fallen." Riess: Dredges have names like ships? Ratcliff: Yes, they seem to be named after people. The Dredge McMullen was also a thirty -inch suction dredge. It was doing a job down near Palo Alto, and it was about finished. It was old. It was built in 1900 and had all kinds of problems. I went over to look at it with one of the naval officers. We had it hauled into general engineering dry dock in Alameda for repairs. I don't know if you want a description of a dredge on this tape, but it was a wild thing. It had a rope drive! It reminded me of Jules Verne. It had three big Heine Steam boilers which powered a ten- foot diameter drum over which twenty-one- inch-and-a-half ropes passed, forming a belt that drove the main suction pump. The scroll of the pump was about eight to ten feet in diameter, connected to the 32 -inch diameter suction line. It was a monstrous big thing. Everything was worn out, including the water tanks. I didn't know where to start, so I decided to take an architectural approach, and I made an isometric diagram of all the pipes and equipment in each system, showing where things were located. I then went over the problems with the guy who was operating it, which was a good start. 117 Riess: Ratcliff : Riess: Ratcliff: By the time the dredge arrived at the general engineering dry dock, we knew something about it. The navy officer came over, looked at it and said, "This dredge must be in tow in two or three weeks out to the Islands." The director of the dry dock said, "Mr. Nordstrom here is going to be the construction superintendent. He's the best man we have, and we're sure that the job will be done. We hope it can be done in the time frame . " I was introduced as the one who knew what had to be done and would be working with Nordstrom. Everybody left except Nordstrom and me. I looked at him and said, "I don't know how we can win a war this way. I was on a dredge the first time in my life last week, and I really know nothing about dredges. We have some things to talk about . " "Well," he said, " come to my office." When we arrived, he said, reaching into his desk, "There is a rule of no liquor on the base, but we must have a drink on this." [laughing] He was a wonderful guy. We just had no problem at all. It was an experience . Well, it's interesting, because red tape is the usual story. Right. No red tape existed after we got started. He was as clear as he could be, and he was a wonderful construction boss. That was the main adventure there . That was an experience. It was certainly not architecture. Chicago. Naval Procurement: Seabees Ratcliff: Then the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in '41. Riess: We've come to this point where you once said to me that you held the most important title you've ever had. [laughter] Ratcliff: I don't know if it was the most important. It was one of the most demanding. I had never worked harder in my life, I'll tell you that. Pearl Harbor happened on December 7, '41, and that ended the work on the permanent bases in the Pacific. The office had to shut down, and our organization in Alameda was given the job of starting to develop a SeaBee program for the Pacific, which meant setting up components for temporary bases. 118 The Bureau of Yards and Docks under Admiral Morrell had come out with 201 different types of bases. We were designing components to meet the requirements for all of those different situations. Simplifying the Quonset hut design was a big problem. Our job was largely an administrative one of trying to simplify the components, the materials, and the equipment and everything, down to the simplest common denominator. One of the basic reasons for that was to make a feasible spare parts program, something that you could actually maintain. We would try to limit the number of sizes of bolts, for example, limit everything down to the point where parts were interchangeable . The Quonset hut we designed over and over again until we got it down to the point where you could tip a boat over and lose half the load and still everything left would work. That was one of the key things. It was a very successful program. Toward the end of the war, we finally had it organized so that there were less than five thousand different items in the program. A bulldozer was an item, but also a bolt was an item. It was a very streamlined program, and it was efficient. Riess: What was your title? Ratcliff: My title let me tell you where it started. This was a procurement office, you know. There were three parts, purchasing, packaging, and engineering. Riess: And the whole organization was called- - Ratcliff: Well, it was called CNAB, Contractors for the Pacific Naval Air Bases, or Hawaiian Raymond Turner when we were doing it in Oakland. Then it became the central procurement agency for the SeaBees in Chicago. What happened was the procurement agency for the SeaBees in Davisville, Rhode Island, moved to Chicago when the Pacific War started. They took some from Oakland and some from Davisville to make up the central office in Chicago. Riess: The actual factory, or where any components were made, was that also in Chicago? Ratcliff: No, we didn't make anything. We were not manufacturing or making a thing. We were just an administrative arm of the SeaBees. We were contractors in charge of analyzing what was needed and making up components, lists of materials, and drawings for all the different construction and facility needs so that by ordering a list of components the navy could outfit 119 any one of the 201 different types of bases that they had designed. We were also responsible for purchasing and packaging and delivery to Port Hueneme. Anyway, when they made this decision to put the SeaBees in Chicago in 1943, they took Russ Fairbairn, Claude Schreve, and me to set up the engineering department. They rented two floors in the Furniture Mart in Chicago. It was a big building. There were no light wells, it just occupied one full, square block. They finally built the department up so there were about two hundred in engineering. There was an enormous amount of work. Claude Schreve was head mechanical engineer. Russ Fairbairn was the structural engineer who had come from the Turner Construction Company. Claude Schreve had also come from Turner Construction Company. I went in as an assistant to the chief engineer, Fairbairn, who was in charge of a whole department. There were three naval officers and Fairbairn and me. My principal work was really an administrative job. I was responsible for assigning and scheduling and overseeing the work of the various different groups of people in the department . When there was a lot of drawing that had to be done quickly, I usually had to do it. Riess: You've said that one of the tasks was responding to the needs of the men in the field. I wondered whether any of that came directly to you, when you heard that things weren't working. In what form did you hear it? Ratcliff : We had a staff meeting every Saturday morning to review what we were doing, to reset our priorities, and to try to get key people up to speed. So we met, Russ and I and Schreve, and old W.D. Hammond, who was the overall project head for purchasing, engineering and packaging, plus the navy. Different people came in from the Pacific bases where they h"'i been. People came from Washington. So it was a time when t..3 key people were present and important decisions were made. One of the best parts of these meetings was to have people from the field tell us what they needed. Riess: How they had to improvise out there and so on? Ratcliff: Right, and whether our equipment was adequate, whether we should change anything, what kinds of things didn't work, what did work, what problems occurred, what things they would change if they could. 120 The SeaBee organization- -the field management that I bumped into, both overseas and in this country, were not made up of a bunch of young people who had worked themselves up through the navy. They were the best construction people you could find. They were very well-informed, very ingenious, really smart guys. I didn't meet many architects, but I met a lot of contractors, road-building people who could tell you how, and we needed that, because every project on these islands started from scratch. They had to cut the trees, level the ground, and build the buildings and all that. They had to be totally self sufficient. With the King's English put aside, they told us how it was. We didn't send them enough spare parts, and we should simplify the details so that everything was interchangeable. Most of it was aimed directly at engineering. We were sort of the scapegoats in the whole thing. If anything wasn't right- - it didn't fit or do something else --it was our fault. The packaging guy just put packages around what we gave him. The purchasing guy just bought what we told him. And the navy lieutenants just watched and signed our letters. The SeaBee team was made up of experienced people. Riess: You mean Admiral Morrell really didn't know? Ratcliff : Oh, Morrell was one of the ones who did know, and everybody admired him. He was one guy who knew what he didn't know, and he had great respect for the people who were doing work. Everybody thought he was a wonderful guy. Riess: Did you actually have contact with him? Ratcliff: Yes, but not often. [phone interruption] Riess: I'll put this quote into the oral history: "...the Navy pontoon, this miraculous five -by- seven-by- five-foot steel box, was developed by the Navy Civil Engineer Corps. It was one of the war's really significant devices. It will be ranked with the jeep, the duck, the LST, and the bulldozer when we classify the machines which helped us confound our enemies. Put together like building blocks, these pontoons can be used to make a barge, a pontoon causeway for a landing operation, or a stationary pier. There are a hundred uses for them. You saw them everywhere. Their assembly both in this country and in the islands was a tremendous industry. 121 Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: industry. The Navy had five Pontoon Assembly Detachments (known as PADs) in the Pacific..."* These navy pontoons. Were .they also in your department? They were built before we got there. They were built in Davisville. The comments I got, though, from the people, again from our Saturday meetings, were not all good. They just roasted us, because of the connection devices. Apparently, they were a square box with the corners cut off on a forty- five degree angle. There was a little triangular device you were supposed to drop into this corner which locked the boxes together. The problem was that when they were trying to put this together, they were always out on the ocean, and everything was bouncing around, and a lot of the time they'd drop the thing, and the little triangular device would drop to the bottom of the ocean. Then they would run out of little devices. They just had more darned trouble putting the things together. But I guess once they got them together, they worked pretty well. In that particular case, what is the difference between architecture and engineering? Both engineers and architects face problems like this. Probably no difference. It was very ingenious, and boy, it locked it up, there's no question! But the guy who designed it didn't think it all the way through and realize the circumstances under which you had to do it. Everything bouncing around gave them some trouble . Riess: It's interesting that now the curse of the Pentagon is scandals in procurements. And yet, you were working with the navy at a time when it was probably as free from scandal as ever. Ratcliff: I think it probably was pretty free from scandal. The Small Business Administration was in there watching and asking to become involved. One of the big problems in the purchasing department was, I think, that it was easier to give the work to a few large, well-established companies than to spread it around to unknown small companies. Admiral Morrell was strong for trying to involve the little guys. This could have had an p. 36, From Omaha to Okinawa. William Bradford Huie, E.P. Dutton Co., NY 1945. 122 effect on reducing the number of handouts. There was a lot of conversation about it. I never got involved with it beyond hearing it at lunchtime. There really wasn't much time for investigation; we all had to produce. Riess: Weren't all the jobs bid? Ratcliff: Oh, the jobs were bid, as a rule, but I think a lot of times they would develop a unit price and they would give contractors one assignment after another. The question of how much profit there was in these unit prices may not have been answered. Some of the companies got nailed pretty hard after the war when their accounts were analyzed and found to have huge profits. Riess: They pursued this even after the war? Ratcliff: Oh, after the war was when it all took place. Soule Steel over here, you know, when their books were examined it was discovered that they had made an enormous profit. Soule had to put a lot of it back. During the war there was so much pressure to get things done quickly that you couldn't stop and argue about the price. You just simply had to say, "Do it. We will talk about it later." Life in Chicago for Evelyn and Bob Riess: Was it nice for you and Evelyn to be out of Berkeley for a while? Ratcliff: Well, it was different. Owen Lattimore rented our house when we were away, and we rented a very nice old house in Evanston, at 722 Judson Avenue, which is in the southern part of Evanston, in the Main Street district. We lived there for most of the time. And then the house was sold, so we had to move. We moved to a much less attractive house. Riess: I was thinking that when you were in Berkeley you were always children, in a way, always surrounded by your family. In Chicago you were really on your own. Did you particularly revel in that? Ratcliff: Well, no, we liked our family. As a matter of fact, it made it more difficult to keep in close contact with them. But we telephoned often. I didn't ever feel that I was limited by my family. I felt as though they were urging us to somehow reach out. It was a good experience for us from that point of view. 123 Being independent was a good experience, and certainly it was a lot of fun. Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: And also a lot of stress, was a hard job. I know that you also said that it It was an awfully hard job. I'd leave at about seven o'clock in the morning and get back around eleven o'clock at night and do that six days a week. It was a workout. When did you get a chance to sing with Madi Bacon? Oh, we sang at night, and I took time off to do that. I took enough time off to take a course in city planning at night from Hilbesheimer down at IIT [Illinois Institute of Technology], next to a course given by Mies. Mies and Hilbesheimer used to comment and discuss our projects. Part of the work we did was in the Art Institute where Mies was teaching. I guess from what I said first it sounds as though my job took up all my time, but it didn't. We even had baseball games, occasionally, which was fun. We went swimming at the Main Street beach, which was fun. We went out to Skokie with the kids on weekends, sometimes. Did you go in search of the Frank Lloyd Wright prairie houses when you were there? Oh, we certainly did. Whenever we had a chance we went looking at the things like that, Frank Lloyd Wright's and Sullivan's buildings. We really enjoyed that part of it. Chicago, we were told, was going to be terrible. It was the "Windy City," it was an uncomfortable place to live. On the contrary, we got to feeling very much at home there. I really liked it. There were a lot of great people there, and it seemed more like the center of the United States than San Francisco. To a person from the Midwest, in Chicago San Francisco seems almost out of touch. Chicago felt close to New York and Washington. It was easy to get there [New York] . You could do it overnight on a train, whereas you couldn't think of going to San Francisco and getting back in less than a week. It would take you three days to go each way. What was the choral group, and how did you discover Madi? I knew Madi, actually, before we went to Chicago. I enjoy singing a lot and sang in some groups out here. When I 124 discovered she had a group, I just thought it would be good to join, which I did. Riess: Did you know her through the Sierra Club out here? Ratcliff: Yes, it was through the Sierra Club. Back in Chicago I got to know her as a conductor. She was a dynamic little gal. I had a very good time . Buildine the House on Panoramic Way in Berkeley. 1941 Riess: When did you build this house? Ratcliff: Well, we built the first part, designed it in 1940 and finished in 1941. Riess: Oh, when you were with Hasten and Hurd. I see. Ratcliff: Yes. We just built the first unit, and what inspired us to do it was that Evelyn's mother died and left a piece of property here, half of which was vacant, and so we decided that this was a place where we might build a small house. We didn't think we'd live here forever. We just thought we could live in it for a while. So we designed it. Riess: The two of you together? Ratcliff: Oh, sure, and had it built by a man named Tom Lossing, a general contractor whose low bid was $4500. We thought that was on the high side, [laughs] It was one of the best things we did. It gave us our own place to live in. Prior to that, we were living in an apartment at 22 Panoramic Way which was sandwiched between some sailors on the bottom floor and a family with a bunch of little kids on the top. We were sort of in the middle, like the short stack of hotcakes! Riess : What does this house incorporate that you had always wanted to have in a house? Ratcliff: It did a number of things that were very satisfying. It's built where it gets a good view, and we made a maximum effort to capture it. We built a fairly good-sized deck, and we had all the rooms facing the view. It is built on a steep lot that faces the street on both top and bottom. The bedroom and sleeping porch were on the lower floor, and the kitchen, living/dining room, and deck were on the top floor. It was convenient for a couple with one child. 125 V RATCLIFF, RAYMOND & RATCLIFF, 1945 [Interview 4: May 16, 1989 ]## Fernwald Hall and Some Troubling Conclusions Riess: Your father never encouraged you to go east to architecture school? Was that ever discussed? Ratcliff: I don't think we ever discussed it. It would have been possible. The only schools that I considered were Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Cornell. But UC Berkeley was considered very good, and it was right here. I just got an undergraduate degree in architecture. I felt that I had a lot more to learn. In those days, out here, that was what most people did in school. The rest came with experience in the field. There was a graduate school at Berkeley, but there was only one student in the school. That was Bob [Robert H.] Gann, and there was only one instructor. That was Bill [William C.] Hays . When they gave the graduate degrees to people in different colleges, there was just this one graduate in the College of Architecture. Everybody in the stadium sort of whispered and laughed. Riess: After the war was over, or during that period when you were in Chicago, did you begin to think that you might even take your career in a different direction, because you were involved in things that were rather different? Ratcliff: I really didn't. I was set to go at that time. As a matter of fact, I had started going before the war, so I felt as though I had been interrupted. I was very anxious to get at architecture. I didn't have a well worked-out plan of exactly how I would do it when the war ended- -VJ Day was on Wednesday the 15th of August. My father had been working with Bob Sibley and 126 the Alumni Association on a housing project for the University. Things began to develop several weeks before the war ended. The University had gotten hold of the Fernwald property at the end of Dwight Way. I think it was Thursday or late on Wednesday I got a telephone call saying, "We've got a project that is going to start tomorrow," which was then Friday, "and you've got to come out and help us because we don't have the drawings made. Dinwiddie Construction's going to start building it, and we've given them some sketches, but that's it." So I went to Russ Fairbairn, who was the chief engineer, and said, "I guess this is going to be it. If it's okay with you, tomorrow's my last day." Riess: It was possible to muster out? Ratcliff: It sort of shook him a little bit. We talked about it for a while, and he decided, "Well, after all, the war really is over. From now on all we have to do is to button up our affairs, and I guess you're not essential for that, so I guess you can go." So Saturday I got a DC -3 that took eleven hours to get to San Francisco. I arrived on Sunday morning at about two a.m. Somehow I got public transportation to Oakland and then got a taxicab with two or three other guys who were going north. I got home at about four o'clock in the morning. Riess: To your own home? Ratcliff: My parents' house. I was married, but I didn't have a place to live in Berkeley because our house was rented to some girls who moved out shortly after that. So then work started on Sunday. Riess: What had your father been doing during the war? Ratcliff: Well, he spent most of his time in the Fidelity Savings and Loan. He was president of Fidelity. He had quite a struggle to hold it together, as a matter of fact. Riess: Why did Bob Sibley turn to your father then? Why the Ratcliff firm? Ratcliff: Well, they were old friends, classmates at Cal. The firm still existed, and Scott Haymond was still working for my father and had been for twenty years or more. Scott Haymond was really the office at that point. My father didn't participate very much, but he had the connections. 127 Before that, Sibley and my father had talked about student housing and were looking at the Stitt Wilson property, the ninety acres which became the cyclotron. Before the war he made a study of that area for student housing. They made a great model of the site with a lot of student housing. It would have solved all the housing needs. They really had a big idea, ahead of its time. Sibley urged the University to buy it. They paid 90,000 bucks for it, ninety acres. Sibley urged the University to designate it for student housing. But Lawrence had Just made the cyclotron work, and they decided to put the cyclotron there . So that project ended, and the Fernwald project cropped right up. Riess: Wouldn't that have been awfully far from campus? Ratcliff: Not far, but it is a steep hill. Riess: In fact, Fernwald is rather far from campus, too. Ratcliff: Yes, but there isn't much of a hill involved. Nothing's that far in Berkeley, really. Almost everything in Berkeley is in walking distance. Riess: That decision to keep it for the cyclotron was obviously political. Ratcliff: Well, they envisioned nuclear energy as becoming a big thing that would expand and require a lot of space. Riess: The expectation was that after the war the campus population would expand greatly? Ratcliff: Yes, and Fernwald wasn't really that big. I forget how many students we had over there, about six hundred, I guess. By the time I arrived, Scott had designed the buildings like war housing. This was supposed to be temporary student housing; everybody emphasized how this was just temporary housing. The University had budgeted one million dollars. That was the total budget. Everything had to fit within that budget, and Dinwiddie Construction had been hired to do it. They were typical dormitories that were designed to meet the minimum provisions of the state law, which said that no person should have to walk more than 100 feet to an exit or an exit stair. So the buildings are 200 feet long. They were two stories high. They were wood frame "no-hour" fire construction. They were designed in the cheapest possible way. 128 There were two students per room, 160 feet in each room. There were central bathrooms arranged with one washbasin and one toilet and one shower for each seven people, which was then the basic standard. Everything was done to the minimum standard permitted by the UC Housing Office and the State code. Riess: And no effort to ameliorate that with design or charm? Ratcliff: Well, when I got here I was shocked at the design concept, because there really was none. The buildings were like blocks put on the site, following the contour: buildings 200 feet long and 25 feet wide, just laid up like logs on a hill with flat roofs and stucco exterior. During that first week Curtis Smith, Sr. , who was then running Dinwiddie, called up and said, "We've just bought the windows for the project. They will be double -hung windows, and they'll be in pairs, and they'll be a certain size. So just make the drawings fit that." Then pretty soon we'd get another call, saying, "We've just bought all the doors for the project. And all the doors will be 2 '8" wide and 6 '8" high." Monday morning, when I got there, the bulldozers were clearing the site. They cleared all the way down to Hillside Court. There used to be a lot of trees in there , and they had cut all the trees down and were bulldozing the site. The neighbors objected. They said that this would be multiple housing, and this was a single-family district both sides of Hillside Court. The zoning went in 100 feet, so you can't build multiple housing within 100 feet of Hillside Court. Unfortunately, by the time the University realized this, all the trees had been cleared. It was just too bad. If it was not going to be built on for multiple housing, it would have been much better to save the trees and put residences in there. The way this project was done, I tell you, they shot first and asked later. Today, it couldn't be done. It would just tear the city apart. Riess: Had Dinwiddie had a longstanding relationship with the University? Ratcliff: Oh, they had. The Dinwiddie Construction Company had done buildings on campus, and they were a very highly respected concern. Bill Norton, who was the business manager of the University, was also very close to Sibley. It was a small group of people. Sproul, of course, was involved. But the University assumed it was their property, that they had the right to use it any way they wanted to, without taking the trouble to find out whether there was a city ordinance about 129 land use. Of course, it had been left to them to be used as a bird sanctuary. If it was in the day of the EIR [environmental impact report], then you would have had a little trouble. This was pretty far from being a bird sanctuary. Riess: Well, it sounds like Dinwiddie- -ordinarily, the architects would make these first decisions. Ratcliff: But in war housing, during the war, you took what was available and put it together. This was really done almost as a war housing project. That was really a jolt for me. I really didn't expect that. I then discovered, however, that they hadn't designed a dining hall, and they hadn't really decided on what they would do in the way of common rooms at the ends of these dormitories. I told them, "We've got to do something else." Dinwiddie wasn't about to do anything special anywhere . Finally, they agreed. Okay, we could design the common space a little differently at the end of the buildings. If you go up there, you'll notice it's a little bit different. It's a little bit better, but I don't think it's great. Then the dining hall they agreed should be considered a more permanent building, and it ought to be done better. It isn't, in my opinion, a great piece of architecture, but at least it's better than the rest. We spent time working on the design. Riess: Did your father go to bat on all of this? Ratcliff: Yeah, he did. But I think that I was much more concerned about this than anybody else seemed to be. Riess: Sibley was doing this for the Alumni Association. Why was it such a jerry-built project? It wasn't a poor time. A million dollars? This was the beginning of a kind of postwar boom. Whv was the spirit so miserly? Ratcliff: I don't know, but the postwar psychology really hadn't taken hold at this point. We had just finished the war. There was a lot of confusion. The peacetime wheels were first beginning to turn. We were all stumbling, trying to get started. This job introduced me to the building trades in a kind of a wild way, too. We had plaster exterior walls. At that point I really didn't know a great deal about plaster. My father knew a lot about it. Dinwiddie Construction knew a lot about it. The plastering people were getting in there, and they were 130 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: going to do it their way. That was all there was to it. I can remember at one point the union threatened to shut the job down because they said that the contractor- -Dinwiddie had gone ahead and put up the scaffolding- -had no business putting the scaffolding up. The plasterer should be putting up the scaffolding. They were going to strike the job. And these union bruisers came out to the job, just like something from Al Capone's gang, and stood around and threatened everybody. Dinwiddie had an old guy on this job named Walter, who was their chief superintendent, and he was a pretty tough, old guy. He came out and made a deal with them. "Okay, you put the planks on the scaffolding. 1 We put up the frame." And that seemed to solve it. Were these jobs done by a particular ethnic group? Well, Italians were mostly doing the plastering, although not all. It was really the University's last war effort, an attempt to get ready for all the students coming back with no place to put them. They thought they had to have this done by September of the next year. This was absolutely mandatory. When was Stern Hall done, the women's dorm that [Corbett and McMurray and] Wurster did? That was later, I think. [Wurster, Bernard! & Emmons 11,000 ft. addition to Stern Hall, 1959. Original 43,000 ft. building, 1942.] They had a private donor for Stern Hall and a conspicuous campus location. You had to do a good job there. That was different. That was quite another thing, you see. Fernwald was considered out of the way, there was no donor to satisfy, and so there wasn't any social demand for a better thing. That's interesting, yes. housing, down in Albany? And how about the married student Was that also postwar? Well, that was war housing. That was altered for students. Some new work was done on it, but basically it remained the same. Ours were better buildings than the Albany buildings, and the University was saying. "Well, they're not quite that bad." Riess: So did you see yourself becoming the conscience of the office? 131 Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: I saw myself wondering, really, whether that's where I wanted to be. What I found bothered me. I knew, about that time, that that wasn't going to be someplace 1 could stay very long. I felt as though 1 could talk to my father, and we could agree. We didn't really agree on the design approach, however. He was much more interested in past classic examples. 1 was much more directed toward the future, trying to invent something that I thought would fit the site. I was less interested in retrieving history than he was and than perhaps I am, today. Actually, 1 must say I feel as though some of the things I did then were pretty naive, but you have to do a little chewing before you know how. At that stage, I really didn't know much about architecture. What are you saying in hindsight? have done it differently? You're not saying you would I think I had to grow up. I'm still doing it. I had to prove things for myself. I felt there were values in the historic approach, but I somehow felt that that wasn't the statement we should be making in our day. Lots of things were happening in this country and in Europe that were new and refreshing, and I felt those were the places where we should concentrate our ideas and thinking. That was not, unfortunately, what Scott Haymond thought. A Healthy Savings Institution, and Fidelity's Home Loan Policy Ratcliff: You've got to remember, also, that my father was sixty-five years old at this point. He was ready to retire. He had spent so much time trying to keep the Fidelity from folding during the Depression and make it grow into a healthy organization, which he did. Finally, it was sold a number of years later. The loan commissioner gave ratings to different organizations, and several years after the Depression this organization had one of the highest ratings in the state. The rating was based on the conservative approach to doing business. I mean, how much reserve capital did you have to protect your investments and that kind of thing. And boy, he saw to it that this company had enough to protect itself. Venture capital was small compared to its protective mechanism, which was the reverse in many younger organizations. Many organizations- -if they ever got a dollar, they spent it trying to get bigger, in trying to start a new branch. 132 Fidelity went on for years with one central office and no branches. Financially, they were in a strong position by the time he retired. That was a real accomplishment. I have to say, he did a tremendous job on that. Riess: Was he generous and foresighted in terms of home loans, because of his interest? What was his stand? Would Fidelity have been a bank that would be willing to finance a new idea? Ratcliff: Well, I took a bunch of new ideas down there. Most of the projects I was doing after the war needed funding, and they would go down to the Fidelity and ask for a loan. Several people in the company balked at some of the designs I gave them. They would say, "This is a freak. If we fund this, we will fall on our face, and we can't afford to do this. You've got to understand what people want." There was a fellow named Donald Uingate, who was one of the old guys in the Fidelity who was very conservative, and he wasn't prepared to accept modern--! don't like to use the word "modern design," let's say, "contemporary design." He was much more a New England type, a Colonial man. Every time I came asking for a loan they would rate it down because of the design. When I did my own house I had the same problem with these guys saying, "You designed this crazy freak up on the hill there. How can we lend you money on that?!" [laughing] Riess: Would they refer it, ultimately, to your father? Ratcliff: My father would say, "It's okay," and then they would do it. [laughing] But they were good on that, actually, I think. They were better than almost anybody else, and they were awfully good on playing the game with their client. During the Depression they pulled a lot of people through. They didn't foreclose on anybody. Most of the people who had loans couldn't keep up with the payments, and they just took notes. My father's idea was, "Well, this is a temporary Depression. We're going to get out of it." He had lived through a couple of them already, and he knew that they didn't last forever. So the people who were conscientious and that he trusted and felt he could deal with, he simply took a note from them. Somehow all survived, and at the end they straightened out their affairs. Riess: He must have been very smart about deciding who he could really risk his reputation on, though. 133 Ratcliff: They were very successful at doing that. That was one of the great things that they gave to the community. It was a kind of civility that went along with it. - Riess: Gutterson and a William Garren were involved in San Francisco Federal Savings and Loan. Ratcliff: So were Hasten and Hurd. Hasten and Hurd were on the founding group of San Francisco Federal. Riess: Did it have the same kind of reputation? Ratcliff: I think so. Hasten and Hurd had the same idea. Riess: Was Gutterson actively involved, do you think? Ratcliff: Well, I actually didn't know that Gutterson was involved. It is quite possible that he was. Riess: Was William Garren well-known? Ratcliff: I don't know Garren. Was he an architect? Riess: Yes, he was an architect. He worked with Irving Horrow. Scott Hayrnond. and Revamping the Office^/ Riess: Now, what were you going to be able to do about Scott Haymond, or what did you do about Scott Haymond? Ratcliff: Well, we then decided to set up a partnership. I wanted to work with my father, that's what I really wanted to do, and he didn't want to get rid of Scott Haymond. Scott Haymond had no place to go, really. He had worked with my father for twenty or more years, and he had, in effect, been the office. Hy father appreciated his loyalty. He had done everything for the last ten years or so before the war ended. He was accustomed to doing everything: writing specifications, doing all the designs, doing all the supervision- -doing the whole show. He was a very bright guy. He had a good mind and probably knew more about the building code than the building inspectors. He knew a lot about materials. He had done enough supervision so that he was a very good supervisor. He really knew what to look for when he went out on a job, the troubles 134 Riess: Ratcliff: and problems. He was a pretty good engineer. Any small project, he could easily do the engineering. He had a good practical approach to building. He could sketch well. He did a lot of things very well. Maybe in his earlier years he spent more time on design, but he worked himself into the position where he really didn't spend much time on design. Once he got a floor plan that satisfied somebody, he just put a house on it. That was the end. There wasn't much concern about refinements in design. As a matter of fact, he was unhappy when 1 would spend time studying ideas or did detailing which looked complicated. He was anxious for simple solutions. 1 guess there's a place for that kind of thing. It doesn't produce good architecture. It produces very pedestrian buildings, certainly, and that's about it. He had a background in classical work, so he knew quite a bit about Renaissance buildings. He had his own system of detailing, which he understood well. He knew how to work with stone. He knew how to work with brick, and he knew a lot of things that I didn't know anything about. When I got there, they had Fernwald and no other work in the office, except connections with churches. Scott Haymond was a Congregational parishioner, and he knew a great many church people. His wife was in Plymouth House at the First Congregational Church, and I think she was a leader of a team there. They had been doing alterations and fix-ups and all kinds of little projects for churches. They had a whole wealth of little contacts with different churches all around, from the Piedmont Community Church to the Congregational and Baptist churches in Berkeley and Oakland. You mean they were working on all of these churches? Whenever a project came along they were generally consulted, so they had a sort of a clientele of people involved with churches. At about that time there were changes at Mills College. Dr. Reinhardt had gone, and there was a new group of people in charge. The board decided to change architects and spread the work around. That was very disappointing to my father. Mills College had been the high point of his career. The Legacy of Church Architectural Work Ratcliff: After the Depression things had changed, and they finally had a parting of the ways, which was traumatic. They still had, 135 Riess: Riess: however, two other clients who they liked. One was the Pacific School of Religion [PSR] . My father had done the original plans for all the original buildings there. He expected that there would be other things coming. They were considering a chapel. It was a kind of a dormant legacy. Nothing was happening when I got there . Then there was the Baptist Divinity School. They wanted to build an administration building, a chapel and a new library, as a matter of fact. They also wanted to fix up old Hobart Hall, which Julia Morgan had designed a long time ago. Is that in Berkeley? Ratcliff: Yes, on Dwight Way at Hillegass. Riess: So there were these two big jobs. Ratcliff: One, really. Nothing materialized at PSR right away. The office had been in the American Trust Building. When I arrived, they were still sorting through the material they had taken out of that office and were setting up in the back of the Fidelity Savings and Loan Building. Scott was the only person there, with a big pile of records, most of which we threw away. (And I'm sorry we did, because there were a lot of nice things that got thrown out.) Scott and I sat in that office for a while, during the course of the Fernwald project. After the Fernwald project was over, the Baptist Divinity School people came and said they wanted to go ahead with an administration building. It seems that they had approached the office about this sometime previously, and some sketches had been made. There was a concept that had been developed. Dr. Fleming was running the Baptist Divinity School at that point. He thought modern architecture was an invention of the devil. He wanted everything to come out of a book, and he had the book. Essentially that's what did happen. I participated in the drawings for that. Then we came to the library, which hadn't been studied before. We made a few changes in that, which I thought were a little better. These two buildings kept us going and provided some money. It was a fairly good-sized project. This is in the forties, now? Ratcliff: Yes, this was in the forties. 136 Riess: When it came to designing the library, who picked up the pencil? You or Scott? How did you work out who was doing what? Ratcliff: Scott and I both worked on that project. There were not too many projects we both worked on, as it turned out. Those were inherited projects, and on the inherited projects I worked with Scott. Residential Work, the Fourth Dimension and the Client Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: What I was out doing was trying to get work that I could do myself, so I pretty quickly began to get little houses to do. Nothing very great [laughing], but good little houses. What's wrong with houses? thing about houses? Do houses not pay? Is that the Well, it sometimes takes a lot of time to make a ten dollar decision. This was a hard job sometimes. When your fee is based on percentage, it doesn't give you, really, very much. If you do all the work yourself, you can come out. You can't come out if you hire somebody, or unless it's a pretty fancy house, or unless you have an awfully well-organized office. If you have much overhead, it just doesn't work. A house, like other small things it's a one-man job, really. One thing that's important to understand is to make it work financially. There has to be a working relationship where the scale of the project and the number of people involved in the work are balanced. Well, you were still fairly small-scale. Oh, yeah, we were small-scale, and it worked. Actually, we did all right. We didn't do wonderfully well, but we did pretty well. Riess: You did Madi Bacon's house in 1947. Ratcliff: Yes. Scott didn't have anything to do with the design, but he did advise me on things that I needed to know. As I have said, he was a practical man, and he knew a great many things. I don't underrate the concept of being practical. 137 Riess: Well, isn't this what you were learning about and practicing yourself, during the war, being practical? Ratcliff: Oh, yeah. It was learning how to manage more than being practical. Practical in a different sense. Riess: Was there anything that you carried into your architecture of this notion of having one bolt that serves all purposes? Did you have that kind of practicality in the back of your mind when you came to design postwar? Ratcliff: You always learn something, but not too much was applicable. The effort for simplicity in the war was to solve an inventory problem in the field and to streamline production at home. 1 did learn some things about administering a large office. Riess: Well, I was also asking whether you thought in modular terms more. Like Gropius, and the Bauhaus? Ratcliff: Yes, but it was a completely different set of priorities in Gropius 's case. The SeaBees were making an erector set with as few parts as possible. How it looked made no difference. Riess: Whereas Gropius was doing it as a sort of conceptual model? Ratcliff: Gropius was making a place to live. How it looked made a difference. There was nothing aesthetic about what the SeaBees did. Riess: I'm just taking you off on a couple of little tangents. I wondered, when you were thinking about houses, what you had in your mind? Who were your heroes? What kind of architecture had you been seeing that you wanted to be doing here, when you thought about houses? Ratcliff: Well, I don't think I followed the pattern a lot of people did at that time, because actually although I never studied with Frank Lloyd Wright, he was one of my heroes. Gropius was intellectually very stimulating to me, but I never really felt that I would be comfortable in one of his houses. I felt as though architecture had a fourth dimension that Gropius didn't somehow explore . Riess: The fourth dimension being comfort? Ratcliff: Yes. The fourth dimension being warmth and comfort and a sense of location, things that related to nature, your garden. --not really just an abstract space frame done so that it makes a beautiful pattern, which could be built anywhere for anybody. 138 I felt that there was something personal missing, really, in the whole modern movement . As a matter of fact, 1 think this was intentionally excluded. I think people thought that they had to go back to base one, to start fresh with the most basic necessary elements. This usually resulted in flat-roofed, rectangular boxes with great care given to proportions, location of window, generally with white plaster walls. 1 felt there were some values being lost in the strictly Bauhaus kind of suggestions. I didn't really dislike what I saw, but I felt there was an element missing. Oversimplification seemed unnatural, to be an unnecessary discipline. The houses I am thinking of were shell assemblies of interesting cube-shaped rooms. All the warmth of detail and color was left to the furniture supplied by the owner. The attitude was, "We're simply giving him a place to live. He'll bring all that with him. When he gets through with our architecture, and what he puts into it, he'll have the things that completely satisfy his soul. But if we try to satisfy his soul in the beginning we're going to miss, because we don't understand his soul that well." Riess: What architects out here would you say were exponents of this? Ratcliff: Neutra was one in Los Angeles, and Don Olsen is in Berkeley. Both did beautifully thought out work. It's not that it isn't well done. It's just that I don't think it does everything, and I was bothered by the sameness . I remember putting a tile roof on a project one time and being told, "My God," by Henry Hill, "What are you doing?!" [laughter] Henry and I were very close friends. I liked what Henry did. As a matter of fact, Henry went a little beyond what I have just describedhe couldn't let a thing go. He'd just keep working, and all kinds of little details and ideas would come out, which I thought was pretty good. He did very nice residential work with lots of interesting ideas. Things like a tile roof, for example, were thought of as decadent, identified with an old culture, Spain or Mexico, not part of our contemporary culture. You were thinking in the past, not the present or future. I heard this but could not completely agree. I think some of the guys who accepted this strict discipline probably did better-coordinated work than I did. I thought that they accomplished this in part by not exploring opportunities. By the standards and goals they set. I've never been that sure or been able to find a design formula 139 that I could reuse time after time. I always started from scratch with the client and the site. Riess: Well, of course, if it's a residence, how are you supposed to think it through? It's the client who should, in a way. Ratcliff: I was going to say, one thing I think is terribly important is to listen to the person that you're working for. I don't think of an architect as a free artist, using only the colors he wants. He's got to listen to the people for whom he's doing the project. They're going to live in it, and it's their thing. You're setting up a design for their living, and I think architects should recognize this as a responsibility. I felt always, from the beginning, if the owner didn't work pretty hard with me, we weren't going to get there. We really had to know each other pretty well. We had to detail the thing out so that it was understood. That doesn't always lead to a winning design. That sometimes leads you to a comfortable design which doesn't really do everything it should do. Sometimes you have a client who is really concerned about the overall feeling of the building. If the overall concept is very close to your idea, you have a much better chance to do something that comes out really well. I've never felt, I guess, that it was appropriate to insist on some things beyond a certain point. If they understand what they're doing, it may be okay. Also, different designers in the office have created a design trail that's hard to follow. On residential work I really preferred working in wood. I was very impressed by people like Maybeck and Gutterson, Thomas and Wright and the Greene brothers, and boys like that. To me, in California, those were the people who were doing things in a way that I felt very comfortable with and enjoyed. Riess: When people came to Ratcliff, Haymond & Ratcliff, weren't they still thinking Mediterranean and stucco and so on? Ratcliff: Well, not when they came to see me. Riess: That must have taken a while, to separate yourself out. Ratcliff: Yes, a little while. Riess: That didn't just happen in the forties. Ratcliff: Well, I would say it really began right away. You couldn't get beyond the first conversation without revealing who you were. Though the projects were small, and few, we didn't start off 140 with a misconception. If they wanted a house by Scott, they came to him, and Scott did them in record time. Riess: What about your dad? Ratcliff: He worked hard on the chapel for the Baptist Divinity School. After that, he didn't do anything of that sort. As a matter of fact, he didn't spend very much time in the office. Ratcliff & Ratcliff. 1953--The Pacific School of Religion Ratcliff: He came in one day and said, "I'm not spending enough time to earn a salary, and so I don't want any more money out of the office." So he didn't take any more money out of the office. Then finally, in '53, it was time to end the partnership. By that time, I was getting enough work, so I wanted some help. Scott didn't want any help because he thought it was inefficient, you had to make out forms for the IRS, and you had to train new people, and he'd have responsibilities that he didn't want. So I thought that was about where we should separate. My father really didn't want to go on after that. Riess: That was what you had always wanted it to be, Ratcliff & Ratcliff. Ratcliff: Well, that's what I really wanted it to be, and I knew when I entered the first partnership that it wasn't going to be for very long. I really knew what Scott was interested in doing, and I didn't want to prevent him from doing it. But because he was there, there was really no choice. I did also know that he was very good on the mechanical aspects of building, that he knew a great deal about that and that I could learn something from him, which I did. Riess: Murray [Slama] was added first? Ratcliff: That's right. We added Murray. He came from [Ward] McSweeney's office as a draftsman, left. I think it was in '53. He came after Scott had Riess: Were you still in the Fidelity Building? Ratcliff: No, we moved out of the Fidelity Building after the Fernwald project into what was then known as the Lester Hink Building, 141 on the corner of Durant and Shattuck. It was a two-story building that my father's office had designed. They only built two stories and a basement, but they had designed it for six stories, which of course didn't work after the earthquake laws came into effect. We were on the second floor in that building. We had a small office, two rooms and a little storeroom. Riess: You added a woman? Ratcliff: Yes, and the reason we added Barbara Baird is, I thought she would be good, that she could draw and she could type! I thought this was so great [laughing] , somebody who could type the specs. I typed my own specs before that. I wasn't a very good typist, and sometimes when I had a long spec to do I'd send it out to get it typed by a professional typist. Letters and short specs we always typed in the office. In any case, this started a new epoch when this happened. Our breakup with Haymond came when the Pacific School of Religion said they wanted to build a chapel, and they wanted to interview architects. We had done a lot of studies on chapels for them over the years , and we had already done a lot of preliminary work on this project, and my father felt we should get the job. He and Scott were unhappy that they weren't just asked to come and design the building. We had a discussion about this. Scott thought it was okay to be interviewed. He was unhappy about it, too, but he wanted to be interviewed. My father didn't want to be interviewed. He knew everybody that was on the board, and he thought it would be very embarrassing to go up and be interviewed. So he declined. Riess: How did you feel? Ratcliff: I felt that we should be interviewed, and I wanted to be involved in the interview. He said, "Well, okay. You can be interviewed. You go and be interviewed." But I didn't want to go with Scott Haymond, because I had seen the sketches that were already made. I thought it shouldn't be those. It would be a very prominent building, and I felt that my career was at stake. So I told my father, "I've decided it's time we separate. We should write a letter to the Pacific School of Religion and tell them that we're separating, and that we therefore should not be interviewed." We met on a Saturday morning, and poor Scott really had a terrible time accepting it. As a matter of fact, he never really got over the shock. It was too bad. I was sorry, but it had to happen. Life goes on, and you just can't always 142 satisfy every possible problem. Anyway, we did separate. The school [PSR] was surprised by that. I didn't ever tell them what happened, and I don't know if Scott did. Then we set up a new firm called Ratcliff & Ratcliff , and they asked if Ratcliff & Ratcliff would like to be interviewed. My father said he didn't want to, and I said I would like to go alone. So he said, "Okay, you can go." It looked like a wonderful opportunity. It was my first experience on a large job, though I somehow felt in my bones that it was a fishing expedition, and I didn't have the right tackle. But damn it all, it was a chance to start. I had to do it. So with no political know-how, I talked to them about what I thought architecture was and what ought to happen in their chapel. I took along some examples of the kind of architecture that I thought was good architecture- -not Gothic. Of course, I got a very nice reception. They were very pleasant. I can still remember old Charlie Brock, sitting there talking about things: "Well, now, do you really think this?" They were not prepared for a contemporary approach. They were really thinking of pseudo-Gothic like the rest of the campus. I got a lot of questions about this, and I ended up defending modern architecture. Anyway, I didn't get the job. They gave it to Ernest Born. You know the story about that, probably. Riess: No, tell me. Ratcliff: The way I heard it was that after they hired him, Ernest Born came over and listened to them very carefully at a meeting in which they told him what they wanted to do. He met the key people. He's a nice guy and a very affable guy. He made a good impression. He went home, and in about six weeks or so he came back with enough drawings to cover the walls of their library. Big sketches, complete concepts, everything. I thought it was a very good building, but it was not Gothic. It had a flat roof, had some exciting shapes and forms. He was a wonderful draftsman. He could make a pastel drawing like you never saw. He just did these things up. He took them over and hung them up in front of the Pacific School board of directors. I was told that they all went around and looked at them as though they were in the deYoung Museum, I guess --not really relating at all. [laughing] I understand that there were very few questions, and finally Born left. Stuart Anderson, who was president of PSR at that time, was instructed to write a letter to Born saying that they were unable to accept the concept and 143 they felt that his views and theirs were so divergent that it would be better to terminate the agreement and pay him for his drawings, which they did. This absolutely infuriated Born. So he had them displayed at the San Francisco Museum where they were well received. The AIA wrote a letter to the school, and different people, other than Born, wrote in his support. Riess: How about Sproul? Sproul was involved with the place. Ratcliff: He was on the board, yes. I don't know what all Sproul's views were. It was a sensitive issue, and I didn't really ever go back and cross-examine people on what they thought. Anyway, so then they hired a man who was on their board, an architect from Los Angeles, whose name escapes me. He designed the building that they've got now. It is all right, but it's not really an exciting thing such as Bern's would have been. I tell you, Born's chapel would have been a building people would come to see. It's really too bad. Anyway, that began a new era for me . The Of f ice- -Interviewing Draftsmen. 1950s Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Did you ever bring Evelyn into the office? She always consulted on gardens. She didn't do any architecture. She graduated in architecture and felt uncomfortable with engineering and with structure. She was interested in design, and she has strong views on design and very good ideas. As a matter of fact, she was a very good student. She was a better student than I was, and she would have been an even better student if she hadn't known me, probably. What about Barbara Baird who was the drafting typist? didn't stick around for long, either? She No, I've forgotten what happened, but she left shortly after Murray came. Murray didn't know a great deal, but Murray was a fast learner. How do you interview a new person? Everyone says the new graduates know nothing. So how do you know which of these ignorant souls is going to become good material? 144 Ratcliff: Oh, you don't. Like when you go fishing, you go for a steelhead but you don't know what you're going to catch. You don't know a tenth as much at the end of an interview as you do at the end of the first three or four days of working with the person. Nothing substitutes for actually doing it. You can get something from references, when you call a person up who worked with the person and ask them questions about how they worked and what they did and work habits, what they're good at and what they aren't good at. You get, sometimes, more accurate information that way than you do actually talking to them. Talking to a person, you get a sense of whether you can work with them, how open they are, how they answer questions, how they come forth, how they explain themselves. And they demonstrate their work, how well they draw. It's hard to tell- -a lot of times when a person claims they're a designer and they show you a building, and you ask, "What was your role in this?" "Well, my role was to design it." Then you talk to the reference and you find out this role was to work on the design, but you may not know who made the key decisions, how effective this person was. Murray Slama and Burns Cadwalader Ratcliff: I found people very valuable in different ways. I found Murray very valuable in many ways. Not as much from a design point of view as from his ability to organize his work, his practical knowledge, and his ability to think things through. I felt very confident, when he had done something, that it would work, that there wasn't some hard decision that he had avoided. A kind of a problem you find a lot of people have is that they get to a place and they get stuck. They can't quite figure it out so they delay the decision until they solve something else. Then they bypass it and forget to come back. This is a typical kind of difficulty and one that's a pretty bad sandtrap. You can find yourself in trouble even after the job is finished, having not found some key little detail that wasn't quite completed because some information wasn't there at the time and so it somehow didn't get done. Murray seldom, if ever, did that. He was very thorough, and he insisted on this kind of work from the people who worked with him. I was not as comfortable with his design ideas as I was with Burns Cadwalader's. However, neither I, nor Burns, nor 145 any of us, were really original thinkers, inventing new ways, on the cutting edge. Jules Kliot. and the Round Firehouse on The Alameda Ratcliff : One guy we had on the staff that I felt had wonderful ideas and was very original was a fellow named Jules Kliot. He was with us for quite a long time. For example, when we did Firehouse #4 at Marin and The Alameda, he was on staff, and he worked on that. Really, the idea of the wall of columns was his idea. And Burns put in time on that. We all worked on it. It was an interesting building for us. It was interesting because it is the result of the coordinated work of all of us. When we got the project, the city council gave us a program that was too large for the site. It was going to be a three -engine company, which meant, in those days, that there had to be room for twenty-one people to sleep on the site-- seven people per engine. In addition to the three engines there would be a chief's car and one or two other vehicles, and the building would just fill the little triangular site. I made a sketch showing what would have to happen. You either had to fill the site, or you had to have a multistory building, which you can't do with a firehouse. We were really kind of stuck. People were objecting. The neighbors thought that it was a permanent park. When Mason- McDuffie did the project, they had a sales office right down in the little triangle. Riess: What do you mean, "did the project?" Ratcliff: Well, when they developed the Solano area, they had a sales office in the triangle. When they finished the project, they gave the little triangle to the city and told the neighbors that it would be left as a neighborhood park. Riess: So the neighborhood objected. Ratcliff: Yes, they did. They put up a strong protest. They said, "The park was given to us, and we don't want you to put anything on it. It's going to be trees and nothing else," except the newspaper folding stand, which was only used by the newspaper boys . 146 The project was stopped, and there were hearings before the council. They didn't get anywhere, so they finally put it on the ballot, to vote on it. Well, of course, it passed on the ballot, but I voted against it. I thought it was a bad idea. I agreed with the neighbors that that should not be there. In the meantime, the city had gone around to try to find another site for the firehouse, and they couldn't find one. They had to build next to some neighbor, you know. Each one was equally bad from the neighborhood point of view. Still, the city had to have a firehouse, because to get a fire rating in the city, they had to have a firehouse in that neighborhood. The neighbors said, "Well, why don't you put it on Solano Avenue in the commercial district? We don't care about that." They couldn't find a site they liked over there, so they just decided to put it on the ballot. It passed on the ballot. In the meantime, the fire chief died, and the new fire chief, Chet Holler, came along and changed the whole concept. The concept was to buy engines from American La France that would have enough equipment on them to serve twenty-one men, but only have seven men on each site, because most of the fires are little, and seven men can take care of them. Then to provide station wagons, and if they need more people bring them in from outside. Well, a one -engine company with seven people on- site is much smaller. Then the city said, "Well, okay, but now you can't cut any major trees." So then we started drawing circles to show where we'd have space on the site. What do you put on a triangular site? was a big question. We struggled with that for a while until we finally started drawing the circles, which worked with the triangular site and saved the trees. Then Jules came up with the idea, "Let's make columns. They're like trees anyway. We'll just put in glass, and concrete columns." [pounding the table with his fist] Boy, that was a good idea! We made a model without telling the city, and I invited the fire chief and the city manager over to see it. When they came into the office I said, "Okay, now you're going into the conference room. I want you to promise to say nothing for the first three or four minutes. I want to explain this concept first." I explained that it was difficult to put a building on a triangular site that wouldn't just destroy the site. To save the trees, we had these spaces to work in. On top of all of that, we could make a round building more serviceable than a rectangular building. We could make it better, and it would be 147 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: less of a problem for the neighbors. It would be a better looking thing, and it would fit the site. Well, they couldn't agree to any of those things at first. Chet Holler said, "Yeah, I like the idea that it can be made better, but boy, you're going to have to show me how." And I said, "Okay, we're prepared to do that." We went with him to one of his stations. It was a rectangle, and all the equipment was stored on the sides of the trucks. When they work on the trucks they have to take it off, and there's no space to work. In a round building, you put the truck in the middle, and there's space all around it. So we agreed to design him a workshop on wheels, which had a bench and had all the tools and stuff and could move around the engine. It was finally accepted. The only person on the council who really couldn't bear what it looked like was John De fionis. It was not a unanimous decision. John De Bonis voted against it because he felt a round firehouse was a ridiculous concept. I used to see John, and every time I'd see him, from a block away, he'd go like this, [gestures] He had a pretty good sense of humor, and he'd make this round symbol with his hands together, [laughter] We had a wonderful time doing it. T.Y. Lin was the structural engineer. I said, "T.Y., how do you hold a round building together?" He says, "Simple! Nothing, to it--simple. You just put a cable around it." So we just put a cable around it. He was really part of the team? Yes. Was Jules Kliot in on the presentation, or was he very minor? Oh, he worked on the drawings, and he-- When you presented it to the city, was he in on the presentation? No, unfortunately I wasn't that sophisticated in those days. I made all of the presentations. He might have been there. I was interested in the protocol. Today I wouldn't do it that way, I would take with me the key team members, but I didn't used to do that. However, I gave him credit for his ideas to the council at that time. Riess: Why did he leave? 148 Ratcliff: Well, I don't know why he left. It was a funny thing. He left architecture. He became interested in light, and he became interested in sound. He became interested in movies. He went down and rented a garage on San Pablo Avenue and set up this room with a tower in the middle. On top of the tower there were about six different slide machines, and maybe a movie machine, shining on the walls. He had sheetrock on all the walls, they all acted as screens. ** Then they had all this amplified music. You really couldn't talk to anybody at the table. When you came in, you bought a pitcher of beer- -it was only sold by the pitcher. They had pretzels to go with it. I don't think they made sandwiches, but there were other things to eat. The theory was, you just went in there and you were exposed to this wild light show, slides, movies, and terribly loud music. That was one of the things he did. The other thing was his wife became interested in lace. Riess: That's Katie Kliot, yes. That's right, I wondered. Ratcliff: "Lacis," they call it [the store]. Do you know her? She was a nice woman. Anyway, they started that and he put in a lot of time on that. I think that she probably is more completely involved in that than Jules is. I haven't talked to Jules for quite a long time. 1 guess he's outgrown the music routine. I'm not sure what he's doing. Reflections on Bringing in "New Guvs" Riess: I was getting at this question of someone who's just come out of school. Are they malleable? Can you make anyone into the person you need in your firm, or were there people who came in that you really had to let go because they never quite took? Ratcliff: Well, one or two people I let go because they didn't take. They're still around. They're good friends of mine, but they just never seemed to be able to put it together. Riess: It seems important to be able to let people go and not just figure that you can teach them forever. Ratcliff: It's a hard thing to do, but I had to do it a few times. Everybody I hired wasn't that young, although I didn't really get any senior people in the office for quite a long time. I 149 never actually thought about it that way, but it might have been a mistake. I should have perhaps gotten some really senior guys in there in the beginning to give me some more perspective on what was possible. I never really looked at large buildings as being within my grasp, at first. That didn't seem quite possible to me in the beginning. My father used to tell me that I was wrong, that I should look for larger work, because it's there and you can get it. He used to say that the sky's the limit. Don't think about that. You can do it. You can always get the help. You can always do something. The Impetus to Succeed Financially Riess: Did you continue those Saturday and Sunday walks with your father? Ratcliff: We did it occasionally, but not on a regular basis. After I left home --that was before I got married- -we used to walk a lot. Evelyn and I used to walk a lot. Actually, when I got going in architecture, 1 was working seven days a week. I found it a very demanding job, to make ends meet. You see, we got married in '37, and our first child was born in '38, one year later, which wasn't the plan. We thought maybe we should grow up a little before it happened, but nature took over. Having the child was probably one of the best things that happened to us. It really made us focus on where we were going. Life was no longer a plaything. We had responsibilities, and we had to get with it. I was fortunate to grow up in a family where my parents were pretty well-fixed, but this doesn't build self-confidence. I felt terribly nervous until I got to the point where I realized I could do it myself. Riess: When do you feel that you were there? Ratcliff: When we started to have a child I was making money. But I was working for other people up to that point, making enough to live on but not really enough to live the way I wanted to. I wasn't feeling confident yet- -this was in '38. Then, of course, the SeaBees came along, and it was okay, but that still wasn't what I wanted to do. I was still nervous about whether I could make it in architecture. 150 After we got going in architecture, I still was grinding my teeth at night. It was a very hard job to build up clientele, get something going where I felt that I had generated the whole ball of wax myself. That took me a while, maybe longer than it takes some people, I don't know. Riess: When do you think it really fell together, what year? Ratcliff: Well, our residential work fell together fairly quickly. Toward the end of the 1950s I had six to eight draftsmen, and we were doing churches and lots of sorority and fraternity extension projects. But I never knew if I was going to go broke next month or not. It's a tough business, because you're on such a close margin. I didn't have a lot of extra money sitting around. I still remember going to Dick Johnson over at the Bank of Berkeley when I had eight people working for me, and I couldn't meet the payroll. "No problem." He loaned me the money, and I began to realize that there's a system which you can apply, that bankers are essential partners in business. That gave me quite a feeling of support, which I hadn't realized. Riess: It gives you much more margin of error. Ratcliff: It gives you time to work it out. I didn't have enough time to work out my problems; there were delays that were out of my control . Riess : You were managing the place in that way? You were the one who was writing the checks every week. Ratcliff: Yes, I wrote the checks and did the bookkeeping. I wrote all the checks up until '60. Berkeley and UC Friends, and the Flow of Work- -Sororities Riess: By that time were you well into your downtown associations? You said that you had to figure out a way of bringing the jobs in? Ratcliff: Well, one way I did it was to get involved in a lot of activities in town. I was interested in the activities anyway, so I got involved in a lot of them. 151 Riess: How did that begin? Where did that begin? You graduated with good friends at Berkeley, lots of associations that were probably good. Ratcliff: Oh, yes, I knew a lot of people. I didn't do all those social activities strictly for business. I did them because I saw a need and thought it was an important thing to do. I did know a lot of people in Berkeley. As a matter of fact, I didn't really solicit work, in the sense of going out and asking people, or being interviewed all the time, or putting myself in a position to be interviewed. I got work without really any effort. It just seemed to come. I guess when it really started to flow was when I began remodeling sorority houses. Much of it was not really "architecture," it was human habitation. If you look at it from the inside out, perhaps it was architecture. But if you look at it from outside in, a lot of it was a compromise because of the nature of the situation, remodeling. For a period of time, our big volume of work was doing housing around the campus. Most of the buildings were remodeled buildings or additions to buildings. There were few new ones. Once it got started, I got to know Ruth Donnelly, who was in charge of housing for the University, and [Mary B.] Davidson, who was the Dean of Students. Every time a project came along they recommended that people come and talk to me about it. Through them I got a lot of work going. The projects weren't big. They were in the $100,000 to $200,000 range, not too bad in those days, but they weren't big buildings. Riess: Wasn't there an office of architects and engineers on campus? Ratcliff: Yes, there was. They supervised the work for the University. This wasn't University work. Riess: But you're saying University people were the ones who recommended you? Ratcliff: Yes. Well, the Dean of Students was involved in supervising the sororities and fraternities and seeing to it that they did things the way they were supposed to do. The University would have given accreditation to student living groups if they did certain things, if they behaved and whatever. They also had minimum standards that applied to buildings for these living groups. They wanted so many square feet for this and that. They had a whole set of standards. 152 As a matter of fact, Donnelly had a lot of these things in her head. People would have to come to visit her to find out. It was verbal communication rather than something she had written. After a couple of jobs, I began to know the rules as much as she did, and I was able to advise people on what they could and could not do. People kept asking, "Why doesn't Donnelly write it out?" So I wrote it out, and Donnelly gave it wide distribution. I got enough work through this connection to keep eight guys going, with the residences and other things we had going, for quite a few years. I took trouble to try to do things as well as I could, but it wasn't stirring stuff for the magazines. Riess: Well, you were never given enough money, perhaps, to do anything other than the most basic? Ratcliff: Money was always a limiting factor, but occasionally I had some good opportunities. Wurster did the [original] Gamma Phi house. The Gamma Phis ran out of room, and they wanted someone else to do the addition. Somebody or other on the board- -you know, this very often happens when you get to the end of a job, something happens. When they asked me, I said, "You know, I think you ought to get Bill Wurster." And they said no. I called up Wurster 's office and told [Theodore] Bernard! what was going on. Anyway, our plan was to add a wing so that you could not tell it's not part of the original building. Riess: In other words, in the manner of Bill Wurster? Ratcliff: Oh, exactly in the manner of that particular building. The details were the same. We just followed them. I decided this is his building, and it ought to look like his building. Then they decided that they weren't satisfied with the fireplace, and they wanted to remodel the living room. I didn't feel comfortable with this, so I called up Bernardi and asked if they would do it. And he said, sure, they would like to do it, so they took over on the living room changes. Riess: And that was not a problem with the board? Ratcliff: No, they understood, and it was not a problem. 153 Good Communication with Clients Riess: Ratcllff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess : Ratcliff: You said--l have to pick up on it --"This very often happens getting to the end of a job." You're saying that the relationship with the architect very often deteriorates? I don't want to emphasize "very," but it does happen that problems arise that are not resolved, and they don't end up as close friends. I've followed a lot of people who have had this kind of a problem. You haven't had it? I had it once. Does it have to do mostly with money, do you think? Well, probably. Yes, money's usually at the root of most of the problems. An extra occurs that they may feel the architect is responsible for or should have anticipated. Most of these problems are probably the result of poor communication, something that happened that wasn't really thoroughly discussed and wasn't understood completely by both sides. What did you do that was different? What did I do that was different? How were you hyperconscious of this? prevent this problem? How did you work to The value of communication is something that I am very much aware of. I realized at an early stage that it's terribly important. I think that some architects may not have the patience to really communicate as well as they probably should. Recently I've been serving on an arbitration commission, and I have noticed that almost every time the problem is the result of poor communication. It's a lesson we should all learn. The poor communication often comes from the architect's attitude about what he is required to communicate- -in other words, he feels that it's his job and nobody should question him? Sometimes I think architects get tired of being asked "foolish questions." This is the hallmark, I guess, of a prima donna, who needs to have somebody to hold him together in some way. He can do a certain part of the work, but he's not expert at 154 Riess: another. In our office today, for example, there are lots of people who are very good at the things they do, but they don't really do everything equally well. They need to be in an office where the things they don't do well can be picked up by others. That's one of the virtues of an office. I don't think everybody has to do every single thing to the same degree of excellence as long as you can organize it so that you get the best out of people. You do that through communication. I mean, that is the way you run an office. You get them together and talk in an up -front way about what's going on, where the problems are, why they happen, and how you're going to solve them. I think that's not just a lesson that architects need to learn. That's a basic human necessity in getting along. In all of the years when you were the active Ratcliff , were you also the active communicator? Ratcliff: Well, I was the arbitrator. Riess: Arbitrator and communicator are different. Ratcliff: They're sometimes the same, too. Arbitration comes after communications fail, but arbitration is frequently communication and persuasion and understanding. It's a two- way street. That's the important thing to realize, that communication is a two-way street, and if you don't understand that part of it, you can't do it. You've got to listen, to communicate . Riess: Of course, you're speaking different vocabularies- -architects and clients. Ratcliff: Yes. That's the other thing about architecture. It turns out to be an educational endeavor. You spend an awful lot of time trying to teach people something about what it's all about. Very few clients come on board that have really studied very much architecture and really have a very sensitive way of looking at things, or the concept of the total project. That's one of the things you almost always face. You face a person who is doing it, maybe, for the first time, who is dreaming, who's got a lot of uncoordinated ideas. To write a program that is a viable program, to organize those ideas so that everybody understands them, means that the person who's been dreaming has got to make an adjustment, and you've got to listen and understand and adjust a little to the dreams. That's an important period in the job. 155 Riess: Are you talking about in any kind of job? Are you talking about in residences? Ratcliff: I'm talking about residences. Actually, this is true on any job. One Man's "Comfort"- -Interiors Riess: I should think that you would really come a cropper over a word like "comfort." When you say "comfort," you might be thinking about redwood. I wouldn't. Ratcliff: Comfort has to do with space, color, light, and a lot of things. As a matter of fact, in our own office we've covered up a lot of redwood with white walls. It's light and cheerful; the white walls became a useful surface on which drawings could be displayed. This was a great improvement. I don't think redwood is the only comfortable way to go. Riess: A house that I know quite well is the house that Anshen & Allen did for Louise Davies. Anshen & Allen designed the interior furniture and were insistent upon that. I wondered whether you felt so wed to your design that you took on furniture? Ratcliff: No. I know that people do that, but I've never designed other people's furniture. But we've gotten involved in the choice of furniture, and we've gotten involved in, of course, built-in furniture. There is always some of that. Riess: When you had done the building, you didn't just itch to do the interior? Ratcliff: Riess: Always in doing a house you make a plan showing how the rooms will be used, suggesting where things go and what they are. It gets to be very important to know that, because if you're going to have a piano, you can't have it in front of a window, you've got to do it on an inside wall. If you're going to have a fireplace, you've got to think about: is that what you want to look at, or do you want to look at the view? You do have a very clear idea of what kind of furniture would be nice. But I've never tried to design movable furniture- -chairs . I shouldn't say never. I did it for my own house, but I haven't done it for other people. You said that you started getting involved downtown. YMCA come first? Did the 156 Ratcliff' Stiles Hall came before the Berkeley Central Y. Stiles Hall came first, and then came the Central Y. Then I got involved with Lucille Marshall, who was the director of the Council of Social Planning in Berkeley. She was quite a character. 157 VI DOWNTOWN BERKELEY [Interview 5: June 7, 1989 ]## Berkeley Municipal League- -Cross for Mayor Riess: What I want to know is, one by one, what these Berkeley civic groups were doing. Ratcliff: Well, okay. I'll start off with the Berkeley Municipal League. The Berkeley Municipal League it's a great name. I don't know who decided on the name, but it started off because some people in Berkeley wanted to change the mayor. The mayor and council had been doing things that we didn't all agree were good things for Berkeley. Hollis Thompson was city manager. I don't remember who was mayor. We supported Larry [Laurance] Cross for mayor. Being a minister, this raised some questions that I think were satisfactorily answered. He was a very good speaker and a very likable person and had ideas we agreed with. Loyse Casebolt and Kirby Casebolt, who lived across the street, had the first meeting in their house. Milt [Milton] Chernin was the chairman of the Department of Social Welfare, and Ralph Chaney was a plant paleontologist who was the dawn redwood man, and Lyle Cook, a lawyer who had always been involved in Berkeley politics; Joe Harris, who invented the voting machine, Joe Bernal who was a Berkeley lawyer, and a number of other people were there. I was treasurer of the campaign. We went out and drummed this up, and we won. We felt very smug. For most of us it was a first political experience. Riess: This was your first plunge into Berkeley politics? Ratcliff: Yes, it was the first time I had joined a campaign to elect someone, although I had been involved with people on the city council on a lot of issues, and the Berkeley Planning 158 Department on many issues, so I was very familiar of what went on downtown. I was unhappy about some of the things that the council was doing at that time, particularly the sale of the old Southern Pacific Station, which was the only green spot in the center of Berkeley, with old palm trees and the fancy old Southern Pacific Station. It was right in the middle of Shattuck Avenue, where it divides between Center Street and University Avenue. "Call me Joe" Harris moved in and ran a low-cost men's clothing store. Riess: Oh, where there's also a bank now? Ratcliff: Yes, there's a bank on that corner now, and it is completely filled with buildings all the way up to University Avenue. It originally was really kind of a station and a little park. The reason the street divided that way was to provide a dead end for trains that didn't go any further. They stopped there and went back. Riess: Who was this guy, Harris? What is his first name again? Ratcliff: "Call me Joe" Harris? You never heard of "Call me Joe" Harris? Riess: No. Ratcliff: Oh, my goodness. "Call me Joe" Harris sold jeans and other work clothes and all kinds of things like that. He ran one of those bargain basement-type stores, where they had all kinds of men's clothes. He was a funny, little, fat man who was very jolly- -an aggressive merchandiser. He seemed to do more business than anybody in Berkeley, for just a short time. Riess: There was a Roos- Atkins building there, too. Ratcliff: That's right. They also relocated there. We felt betrayed by this darned mayor and council. We were very mad about that. We felt that was a terrible thing to do. Riess: What I've read about Laurance Cross is that not only was he the minister of the Northbrae church, but he was a Socialist. Ratcliff: Oh, well, Joe McCarthy said he was a Communist, at one point. This is ridiculous. I don't know, maybe he was a Socialist. He was a liberal -thinking man, but he wasn't motivated by "isms." I think he was simply motivated by what he felt would be good for the community, and if it fell in the Democratic camp or the Socialist camp or the Republican camp, I don't 159 He was thinking about think it made much difference to him. ideas . Riess: Were those good years, then, under him? Ratcliff : I thought they were pretty good. He never became a universally popular mayor. Later he ran for governor. He did things the way the he thought they should be done , and not because they followed the party line, although he was a Democrat. He had a radio program called "Cross-cuts," and he used to be on the air all the time, talking about social problems and his views on these things. He was an awfully good speaker. He told me that he couldn't read a speech. He had to know the subject and think on his feet. When he came to give a speech, even a pretty important speech, his notes would consist of four or five words. That's all. The reason for those four or five words was to prompt him, perhaps, on the order in which he should bring up these things. He rarely brought a lot of statistics to meetings. He must have had a wonderful memory, but he was also just a very gifted speaker. Riess: That cross -section of Berkeley people who were on the Municipal League is heavily weighted with the University. Ratcliff: Yes, I think that the Municipal League and its supporters were University-oriented people. Council of Social Planning and the Problem Populations Riess: Now, what was the Council of Social Planning? Ratcliff: I'm not sure when it started, but I became involved in that in the late forties and early fifties. It was the planning arm of the Community Chest, and it represented most of the social service agencies. The different agencies would put in their requests and their ideas and their suggestions to the Council of Social Planning. Riess: Was this East Bay or just Berkeley? Ratcliff: It was just Berkeley. It was an arm of the Berkeley Community Chest. When the United Crusade came along and consolidated the community social agencies into a regional system, that wiped out the Berkeley Council of Social Planning and Community 160 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Chest. The thing that was good about the Council and the Chest in Berkeley was that it brought together all the local people who were concerned about the social issues. It brought together the cream of the crop, I'll tell you. It was a good organization. You list Molly [Mrs. E.O.] Lawrence. Yes, Molly Lawrence was very regular. She attended everything, and she was interested in everything. Margaret Hatfield was on it. She was one of the great people in Berkeley. John Hatfield was a banker. Margaret Hatfield was the daughter of Henry Poppic was on it. Henry was a lawyer in a longtime friend of mine. We were in the first Henry is not living in Berkeley any longer. Seldon Smith. Berkeley and grade together. Bob McNary was on it. McNary Chapel? Yes. Dieter McNary was the one that started the chapel, and Bob McNary is his son. Bob was very active in this whole thing. Lucille Marshall was the executive director of this. She was the only paid employee. Van Dusen Kennedy was on it, and is still on many different things around town. It was a very constructive group of people. The thing that was good about the Chest was that it was a hometown organization. We did our own business in our own town. We took care of ourselves. We had a very sensitive feeling about where the problems were in Berkeley. At one point we were wondering: where did the money go? We analyzed the clients that went to these various different agencies, and we identified what we called the "multiproblem family," or the "multiproblem person," the person who was served by three or more agencies. We discovered that there were not many multiproblem families and yet they used 80 percent of the total amount of money that was gathered by the Chest each year. It was a relatively small group of people. You'd find these guys were in and out of jail. They just revolved through the system. They used it at a high cost to the community. How did you get those statistics? agency come and do a study? Did you have an outside No, we didn't. Lucille Marshall and the other people who were running the different agencies brought all this information together. It was a big surprise to all of us to find out that 161 the money was so focused on just a few bad apples. It's a case of one bad apple spoiling the whole box. Riess: How would you describe those "bad apples?" Ratcliff : For one thing, most of them had fairly recently come to Berkeley. I think the old-timers in Berkeley had found a comfortable way to live and did not need much help. But there were people that came in that couldn't find a niche, that were just not absorbed by the community, that somehow didn't seem to fit very well. The war brought in a lot of people to work in the shipyards and other industries. Riess: That's that time, just after the war. Ratcliff: It was after the war. That's when we were getting all this trouble. We didn't have a big minority population prior to that. We then got a fairly good-sized minority population. I feel as though there's more difficulty with minorities today than there was at that time. It was low income. It was lack of work. There were no drugs to speak of. That wasn't the problem, but a lot of uneducated people out of work coming here to get work. This was a town in which there weren't many good jobs that didn't require some education, some background. Riess: Was there a problem of homelessness that this group had to address? Ratcliff: I don't think there was much of a homeless problem. I suppose there always has been a little bit of a problem, but it was not identified as a big problem. Riess: Did the churches take a social responsibility? Ratcliff: Yes, the churches did. They were the principal people who did take social responsibility. The YMCA had eighty-eight rooms, SRO rooms they call them- -single room occupancy. They had, essentially, eighty-eight homeless people living there. The churches also were supporting a number of people around town. Also, most of these people were nervously unstrung, somehow, because of lack of work, because of their position. Some of them I think were quite intelligent people. Most of them had enough brains to know that they were having trouble. The black community, at that time, basically was a pretty solid community. I don't think we had a lot of trouble down there, not nearly as much as we seem to have generated now. 162 Riess: Once you had identified the "bad apples," how did you deal with them? Ratcliff: I don't know of any special changes that we made because of that, but it was a really edifying thing to discover that that's the way it was. Environment ShapinE Lives Riess: Do you subscribe to the idea that environment really shapes lives? If you could have put them in a nice house of a certain kind of design, would they have straightened out? Ratcliff: Charles Keeler, coming through, is that what this is? [laughing] Riess: Or more recently Christopher Alexander. Ratcliff: Christopher Alexander coming through, yes. Well, I guess 1 agree that it might help, but I subscribe to the concept that everybody needs help. I think that the biggest cause for most of these problems is the breakdown of the family, and the people who find themselves in trouble with no place to go, no support. I think that is one of the principal reasons that people get off -track. I think one's environment- -living in a beautiful house tends to make people more sensitive to art. Art, I think, has got something to do with the good life. It gives one an opportunity to appreciate and understand and relate to beautiful things, to nature. Being aware of the seasons and sensitive to one's environment is a very leveling sort of thing. I think people who are sensitive to those things are strengthened by it. There's always some relief by being in contact with art and beauty. Riess: In a way, what you're saying is that, in a very big picture, you're in the system, rather than being outside the system. You're part of it. Ratcliff: Exactly, yeah. If you get that sense of being involved, that is a very leveling kind of thing and a great support to a person who feels himself in trouble. It's one of the reasons, you know, you go for a walk. I used to think of this. I would 163 Riess: Ratcliff : Riess: Riess: get really disturbed by something and just get out there and go for a big hike in the hills. It helped. Yesterday I walked on what we call the lower fire trail, that starts at the UC Botanical Garden and comes around and ties into Panoramic Way. I'll tell you, boy, that's some piece of unspoiled real estate. Just the way nature left it. The thing that bothers me when I walk in Strawberry Canyon are the memories of how it used to be where the stadium is. That was probably as fine a piece of nature as you could find on the Pacific Coast, with bay trees that were three and four feet in diameter, and enormous oak trees and waterfalls, and you name it, right on this campus, and they put the darned stadium on top of it. But there's a little piece of that still left further up the canyon. Well, okay, this is a diversion. Okay, so the Council of Social Planning at least was aware of what was going on. A bunch of people came together who had participated in activities in the various different social institutions around town. It was just a collection of people that knew all the problems and were concerned about them and trying to do something about them. I was fortunate to be in there. The only reason I guess I got involved in it was because whenever they had an architectural problem, I got passed from one to the other. I helped them fix this and that, and did many different little projects all around Berkeley. This started as soon as you came back and joined your father and the firm? Ratcliff: As soon as I became a Berkeley citizen again, I became concerned about this sort of thing. Was this a role he had also had? Ratcliff: He was very active in civic affairs. He did work with the Berkeley Day Nursery. He built their building. He was concerned about these things. When I agreed to work for the Community Chest, I was given a block on Shattuck Avenue to collect money from. Bob Porter, who was running the Chest, said, "Well, the first thing you do is make your own contribution. Then you go around and collect the others." So I went to my old man and said, "Okay, I'm coming to you, after I've made my contribution," which I did. And he wrote me a check for a thousand dollars. Holy smoke! [laughs] I had put in a hundred dollars, or something like 164 Riess: Ratcliff: that, and the total contribution was less than two thousand dollars for the whole block. That included some pretty big shots in Berkeley. I realized that he was extremely generous in terms of his feelings about this. I talked to him about it, and that's really the way he felt. I don't think he did very much architectural work for them, but he made generous contributions to them. That was just one. He would do it several times during the year. I guess maybe that's where I got the genes that started me thinking about that. Who was it who started passing you around? Do you associate your beginnings as a Berkeley citizen with any particular person? Maybe Carol Sibley? Veil, Carol came a little later than this, as far as I was concerned. Carol was very heavily involved, and Carol's heyday came later than this . Citizen Involvement. Stiles Hall and the Community Y Riess: Ratcliff: Who, would you say, had that role earlier? groups together? Who ties all these Well, I got involved with the YMCA very early in the game. First of all I had been involved with Stiles Hall, which was focused more on student activities and some of the teenage problems. The Central Y was focused really more on city problems and younger people than that. Both of them were focused in this direction. I don't know. I just met all these people, and I guess if you asked me who- -well, there were some mentors I had. Riess: Who? Ratcliff: Oh, okay, [laughter] Harry Kingman is one. Bill Davis is another. Those were Stiles Hall guys. There were several other people at Stiles, but I think I'm now singling out the ones that I think were most influencing. Down at the Central Y, there was Frank Drake, know who Frank Drake was . You don't Riess: No, I don't. 165 Ratcliff: Frank Drake was the head of the Johnson Gear Company, and he became chairman of the board. Ben Rickli was the director. They were very good people. Riess: Johnson Gear Company? Ratcliff: The Johnson Gear Company made deep well turbine pumps for farmers out in the valley who were pumping water for their irrigating systems. Riess: Was it a Berkeley firm? Ratcliff: Yes, it was a Berkeley firm. Frank Drake was president of the YMCA and one of the great guys in Berkeley. Riess: And Ben Rickli? Ratcliff: Ben Rickli was a wonderful man. He was the director of the Berkeley Y for a long time. Then there was Bob Porter, who was the president of the Community Savings and Loan in Berkeley. I first knew him when he was director of the Community Chest. Ratcliff: Berkeley was quite different in those days. Riess: And those people probably had quite a different vision of Berkeley. Ratcliff: Well, they were all very much involved in the design of Berkeley. It's like learning to play music. To get your kids to learn the piano long enough to enjoy it, it's a big struggle. Once they get to the point where they enjoy it, they're involved. These guys had gotten to the point where they understood this town. They were involved. It hurt them when something didn't go right, and they did something about it. Lester Hink Ratcliff: Lester Hink was one of those movers and shakers. He was controversial. Some did not like him. First of all, they didn't know him. Secondly, they were, I think, scared of him, because he was a big operator in Berkeley. There was the 166 University in Berkeley, and then there was Lester Hink. [laughter] They were the two big industries in town. Lester Hink was a good politician. He was a very good businessman, and a successful merchant, and very sensitive to social issues. He supported everything in town in a major way. You could go to Lester Hink and say, "So-and-so in this agency's in real trouble." He would ask, "How much do you need?" And he would invariably say, "I'll match you for half of it." Riess: When you're talking about "So-and-so" in an agency, you mean you would be talking about an individual who needed help? Ratcliff: No, I mean an agency. But he wanted to know the details, the people involved. "Do you need to change some personnel, or what's the problem? Can it be resolved? I mean, are we just putting money down a rathole?" He would be careful about where he put it, but he supported anything he felt was legitimate. Riess: That's very interesting. How about [Frank] Spenger? Ratcliff: Never got involved. Couldn't get him involved in anything. Spenger was a fine guy and a wonderful chef, but didn't get involved. We tried to get him involved a number of times but didn't get anywhere. Permit Appeals Board and BuildinE Codes Riess: Okay, let's go on to the Permit Appeals Board. Ratcliff: It's actually called the Board of Permit Appeals, and it was composed of an architect, an engineer, a builder, and a real estate person. The purpose of the board was to hear complaints or appeals that people would make, because they felt the code was too restrictive as applied to the special conditions of their site, or they disagreed with the building inspector's interpretation of the code on technical building problems, which they felt were unfair or were irrelevant. Berkeley, at that time, had its own building code. It was one that was drawn up for Berkeley. There was no state code at that time. This was when each little city had its own code. San Francisco had the most remarkable code you ever saw. Berkeley had a kind of a reasonable code. Richmond had a code 167 that was written on newspaper, edition! It looked like the Sunday Riess: What do you mean by "reasonable" in a building code? What do you mean by "remarkable" for San Francisco? Ratcliff: Well, San Francisco did things their own way. They ignored the D.H. Burnham plan to revise the city plan after the 1906 fire and went right ahead with their old twenty-five foot lot plan, with no firewalls between buildings. Each square block is like a layer cake on edge. You start a fire at one end, it'll go right through the whole thing. It was a stupid situation. Riess: In the case of Berkeley, the codes might have arisen from the results of the Berkeley fire in 1923. Ratcliff: Well, there was a code in Berkeley before the 1923 fire, but events like this do affect the codes. Riess: Did your board have a lot of work to do? Ratcliff: Not very much. The Planning Commission and the building inspector resolved almost all the problems. We had a meeting about once a month. We also had a meeting on call if somebody was in trouble, but essentially it really basically resolved itself into a meeting about once a month. We would hear two or three issues. Riess: Did you end up making code recommendations, then? Ratcliff: Yes, we did. We made recommendations to George Berry, who was building inspector at that time, [laughs] Riess: Why do you laugh? [laughs] Ratcliff: George and I agreed on how to interpret the code. We never had any trouble at all on anything. I don't think many other people did either. He was a very reasonable guy with a constructive attitude toward things. We didn't have as many issues to contend with then. For example, we didn't have a handicapped code then, and the earthquake requirements have become much more restrictive and complicated. Now that the C.I.L. [Center for Independent Living] group has located in Berkeley and focused on the code, they have made many changes which have added cost and complexity to construction. Any building you build now has to be accessible to handicapped people. I agree with that. But I 168 think that complete accessibility is not always practical and may be more than they're really justified in asking for. Riess: You also probably did not at the time have representation from all the parts of the city. Ratcliff: No, that's right. I don't think people really knew that they could come to the city and get represented. Riess: Was that an appointed position, the Permit Appeals? Ratcliff: Yes, it was an appointed position. I did it for one term, about three years or so. Panoramic Hill Improvement Association. Road Committee Riess: The Panoramic Improvement Association- -how long has that been around? Ratcliff: It started in about 1946, and it's still going, [laughter] It started because the Oakland part of Panoramic Way was not developed. It was just a dirt road. There were no houses. It was Just open land, and it was clear it was going to be developed. The street was very narrow, and we wanted a voice in the development. It had been subdivided into twenty- five foot lots a long time before. So on the map it looked as though there were lots all over the place, all usable. But it is a very steep piece of land, and not usable in twenty- five foot pieces. Almost all the lots had been sold to people back east, where they had been shown a plan without contours next to the University. You could get a lot here for practically nothing, and it's only a block from the University! Then these people would come out and find out what they bought was not usable. Riess: I had no idea. It was a scam? Who was the developer? Ratcliff: I don't know who actually did that. Anyway, some people began to realize the big opportunity. One of them was Judd Boynton. Did you ever hear of Judd Boynton? Riess: Sure, yes. Ratcliff: [laughing] Judd found out that he could buy these twenty -five foot lots for about a hundred dollars apiece, or some very 169 small amount of money, and he became the biggest land holder on the hill. Riess: But Judd--did he develop it at all? Ratcliff: He eventually developed a lot of it. But there was a fellow named Donald MacFarlane , a psychiatrist, who lived at the corner of Panoramic where Panoramic takes a big bend and where the map showed it continuing into Oakland. Donald MacFarlane decided he'd stop all of this, and he bought this kind of dirt wagon route , which meant he would block the travel up the canyon. It was shown on these maps as a public right-of-way, and property had been sold based on the fact that the road was there. Well, Judd bought all the lots on the other side of this, and the fight was on. Judd claimed it was a public right-of- way and that Donald had no right to claim it as his own property. Riess: Was this after the war? Ratcliff: Oh, yes, it was soon after the war. Judd and Donald MacFarlane were just fighting mad. Judd took out a lawsuit against Donald, and so there was a lawsuit pending. The bottom line was that Judd won, but in the meantime, Donald didn't roll over easy. The Panoramic Way Association was formed, and I was appointed chairman of the Road Committee. I wasn't chairman of the Association. Riess: The Road Committee sounds like the heart of the matter. Ratcliff: Kirby Casebolt was chairman of the Association. He was a very mild guy. He was an accountant for Standard Oil, and a very easy person. I was appointed chairman of the Road Committee. Knowing the way things were going, and the dangers of being involved in a big scrap, I told them, okay, I'd accept the job, providing I could select the members of the committee. They agreed. I decided I would select the committee members on a geographical basis. So every hundred yards, on alternate sides of the street, I chose whoever lived in that house, all the way up the hill, starting at the bottom. I got people, some of whom I didn't even know, on this committee. But at least they were not chosen from a political point of view. They were chosen from a geographical point of view, which the Association accepted as a concept. Well, there were a couple of 170 Riess: exceptions: I agreed that Judd and MacFarlane had to be on the committee, [laughs] The interesting thing was, I got to one old house that had just been rented by a Chinese guy, and I went and called on him and said, "You've been appointed to be a member of the Panoramic Road Committee." His name was T.Y. Lin, and he said he'd be glad to serve, [laughing] Well, we had a first meeting of this committee at MacFarlane 's house, and as we were assembling, everybody was there but T.Y. Finally T.Y. came-- and I didn't even know he was an engineer at that point. Prior to the meeting, Judd had called me- up and said, "What did you put this guy on the committee for? I mean, he's a Chinaman. What does he have to offer? He's a renter, anyway, et cetera, et cetera." I said, "Look, Judd. I have a system. If you don't like it, you don't have to be on it yourself. I'm not going to be chairman of the committee unless I can do it this way. This is it." He said okay. Well, we are at the meeting, and T.Y. comes in. I said, "T.Y. , welcome to the committee. I'm awfully glad you're here. Have you ever worked on a road before?" "Well," he said, "I never worked with a little road." And since the only road in China that I knew was the Burma Road, I said, "Don't tell me you worked on the Burma Road!" "Yes," he said, "I was chief engineer." Well! Everybody settled back in their seats, this was a new dimension! Then we started walking over the hill. We were trying to find a second access to Panoramic Way at this point because we thought, "If we're going to develop all this at the top, we've got to have a second way out. We can't overload the street down there." Judd had already marked off where the second access road, he thought, should go. We followed him, and we got to a very steep place. We said, "My God, Judd, you can't drive a car up that. It's going to take a tractor. You have about a forty- five degree angle." "Oh, it's no problem. We can do it this way." Judd was talking as though he was a great expert. Finally, someone said, "Well, T.Y. , what do you think about this?" T.Y. pulls a little instrument out of his pocket and looks at it. "Yeah," he said, "not very easy, 35 percent grade." [laughing] This was all on foot? You met, and then you set off on foot? Ratcliff: Yes, we walked over the area on foot. This was the beginning of a study by both Berkeley and Oakland which resulted in a 171 staked-out right-of-way over to Dwight Way, a proposed assessment district which was turned down by a vote of the Panoramic people. So we do not have a second access road. But this committee still exists. As a matter of fact, they're having a meeting next week, and it's concerned now with the road. Most of it is concerned with fire and road and things of that sort. Riess: The quality of the road is awful! Ratcliff: Oh, yeah. Of course, that's been a debate in the city forever. The city has not, until recently, even done more than patch through it. Now, at least, they fixed the two corners. Hopefully, they'll work on the intermediate part. But they've changed the zoning ordinance and downgraded the potential density. They declared it an ES area, which means Emergency Study area with special requirements. For example, you now have to leave twenty feet between your house and your neighbor's house, regardless of what the code says about setbacks. It's made some lots impossible. In Oakland you can't use a twenty-five foot lot, under the present code. So they've had to combine lots and make them fifty feet wide, or wider. Riess: Is representation on the Panoramic Road Committee on the same basis that you devised? Ratcliff: I think not but several of the original members are still active . Riess: Don't you think there are people up here who would like to lead a more secluded life? Maybe it's difficult for them to get political, because they like to think they're in a remote place? Ratcliff: Well, there is plenty of politics. We have Pat [Patrick] Devaney and Doris Maslach who keep us in the news. I think people come up here because it's convenient to the city and University. It's got a good view. The narrow, rough street and the "Telegraph Avenue" marsh present a problem. It is sort of hard to crawl through, [laughs] Riess: That's quite an image. Ratcliff: When they had the riots in People's Park, the tear gas came clear up on the hill. It actually got in our eyes. 172 Riess: It strikes me that if this hill had any kind of political clout that you would have been able to get a much better road from the city. Ratcliff: That's true. Maybe it's because Panoramic Way is the longest blind street in Berkeley, or because half of it is in Oakland. As I say, at one point we almost got a second access road. I was very strong for that. We got the city of Berkeley and the city of Oakland to agree to cooperate in staking out the road, in surveying the road, and estimating the cost, and setting up an assessment district so that we could do this. The district was going to include everybody from the bottom of Panoramic clear up to the top. But it had to go to vote, and they voted it down. They voted it down twice. It was a time when the estimated price for doing that whole thing was about a hundred thousand dollars. So we lost our chance. City Commons Club, and Herb Zuckerman Riess: Ratcliff: What's the City Commons Club? Is this a social club? In 1946 you were on the board. Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: It's a social club. It met in the Women's City Club, which is now called the Berkeley City Club, a Julia Morgan building down on Durant Avenue. It was made up of businessmen and University people. It was a little bit like the Town and Gown Club for women, but it was for men. It met every Friday at noon. Perhaps it was more like the Rotary Club or the Breakfast Club. We had talks by various distinguished people. Many of the talks were given by members of the club or people that were known by members who were active in the University or active in the Bay Area. Occasionally out-of-town people, but the University provided, I think, most of the speakers. Was it exclusive? You were asked to join. It was exclusive as far as men were concerned. It was a man's club in the beginning. As an architect, are you a businessman or a University person? As an architect, you're a businessman, perhaps, of unknown gender, [laughter] At that time I was just beginning to learn about businessmen. 173 Ratcliff: Anyway, the City Commons Club was started by a guy named Frank Cornish. Riess: Oh. Another new name. Ratcliff: Frank Cornish was a lawyer. He was an old Berkeley citizen, and it was an old institution when I joined in 1945. My father had been a member for quite a long time. Every Friday noon we would walk up Durant Avenue to this club and have lunch and listen to the talk. We always joined a fellow named Herb Zuckerman, and walked up together. Herb was another wonderful person. He was known at that time as the "potato king." The Zuckerman family own an island up near Stockton in the delta where they produce potatoes. I think they were the biggest potato producers in the state. Herb was an accountant. He was part of this large family that operated the farm up there . He did the accounting work, and he was close to them. Herb was in some ways much more liberal than my father was, though they were about the same age. He was looking ahead, thinking the way a student would think, optimistic, open. The jazz hadn't been knocked out of him, he was still in there fighting for principles and ideas that to some were impractical but had promise for the future. He was for trying to change things. He always came with an issue that he wanted to talk about. He was just an exciting person to talk to. Riess: And it gave you a chance, probably, to get into issues with your father that you wouldn't have ordinarily. Ratcliff: Oh, yeah. But I didn't have any trouble talking to my old man. He put up with my screwy ideas very nicely. He never was critical of the fact that I disagreed with him, but he defended himself pretty vigorously sometimes. Anyway, there were a lot of interesting people in that club, but Herb was one of the ones that I enjoyed the most. Business Lunches and Service Clubs Riess: There were a lot of places where you could eat lunch. Rotary, the City Club, the Berkeley Breakfast Club? I mean, how many? Ratcliff: I didn't join the Rotary Club until a long time after that. As a matter of fact, I first joined a club, because I knew some of the people involved, called the Knights of the Round Table, which never developed really into what I had hoped it would, 174 although I put a lot of energy into trying to get it to do some things . Riess: What were they? Who were they? Ratcliff: They were a group of local people. It's a national service club, and it still exists, but it's a much smaller group. 1 don't know that there's a chapter here anymore, but Jeff Cowan was a member. Jeff was a local lawyer. He finally dropped out and joined the Rotary Club as I did. Riess: What did you think that it could do for the city of Berkeley? Ratcliff: Well, most of these service clubs take on things. The Lions Club takes on the blind people. The Rotary Club has a budget, and every year somewhere between five and ten thousand dollars is spent on worthy things around this area. It's a conversation group in which people get to hear about what other people are doing. I think it's a very healthy thing for businessmen and University people to get together, to get to know each other and discuss local, regional, and national issues . Service- -Murray and Burns and AIA Involvement Riess: When Murray Slama and Burns Cadwalader joined the firm, did they also get involved downtown? Ratcliff: They never joined any service clubs, nor did Don when he joined. I guess they weren't really motivated to do it. Burns became involved in the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, was on the People for Open Space board, and was active in other organizations. He and Murray gave a lot of time to the AIA, and both were chairman of the East Bay chapter. Murray was also more completely involved with the construction industry. He had a very strong interest in management concerns -- construction management and stuff like that. He had a real talent for it. He was a very capable guy in this regard. Riess: The reason I asked about Murray and Burns is because I was interested in whether you tried to make it a policy that the members of the firm--. Ratcliff: Do that? Well, it was not a mandatory policy, but I did feel that somebody in the office ought to become involved in the 175 AIA. Murray and Burns both did, and later Don did, too. When they did, I decided that that was enough of an effort in that direction for our firm. I was doing a lot of pro-bono work and felt that we were spending as much time as we should on community social issues outside -the firm. So I didn't do it. The AIA has become a wonderful organization. Yet one of the reasons I didn't originally join was 1 felt it was a very self-serving organization in a political way. Today it's a different story. The AIA has a major influence on standards of excellence in design and integrity. It has an enormous impact on the profession as well as the public. Originally, the meetings I went to were all sort of focused on legislation that would benefit the architects, no talk of the architects' mission. While that was important, it was not what I wanted to do. Berkeley Master Planning, and UC's Growth Riess: You were busy. Master planning and the Berkeley Waterfront Committee sound like two tremendous ones. Ratcliff: Well, they weren't tremendous. They took a lot of time, though . Riess: When was Berkeley master planning? Ratcliff: There was a continuing effort that ran through the fifties and early sixties. Riess: What signs does Berkeley now show of the master plan? Ratcliff: Controlling growth was the principal concern. We had a pretty standard plan, which separated housing districts into multiple- family and single-family and two-family, into commercial districts, and an industrial district. Riess: This sounds like zoning. Ratcliff: Yes. We dealt mostly with the zoning issues, trying to establish standards that would lead to reasonable growth. The zoning densities and building heights have been reduced more since then in a continued effort to protect residential character, rightly so. Riess: This was the first master plan? 176 Ratcliff: No, we were trying to revise the original plan to make it a more effective guide to growth, looking at a maximum in the neighborhood of 150,000 people. The original plan would permit up to 75,000. The circulation element, streets and public transit, was established. There were lots of conversations about the impact of the Caldecott Tunnel on Ashby Avenue and Berkeley. Many of us thought that the major traffic from the other side should come down to Telegraph and north on Telegraph to Berkeley. Telegraph was really the only street that was big enough to take the kind of traffic we anticipated. A major interchange should be made at Telegraph Avenue and 52nd, or whatever that is down there, so that that could happen. Well, they didn't have the money, or whatever, and that never developed. Then to get public support we had a committee with people on both sides of Ashby Avenue and Tunnel Road, and you can imagine the self-interest. The thing just broke up in a hopelessly disorganized conclusion. And Tunnel Road and Ashby Avenue were finally favored as the most direct connection. Riess: Was Corwin Mocine the strongest person in Berkeley planning? Ratcliff: Yes, I would say he was. He was a very strong planner. He was well -liked and a good speaker. He was very effective. Riess: But unable to make all the ideal solutions materialize. Ratcliff: Well, nobody ever is, but he did some very good things. He was the right person for Berkeley at that time. Riess: Were you dealing with the University's growth, also, at that time? Ratcliff: Well, that had always been part of the conversation. Every time the master plan comes up, the city says the University's "got to be stopped." At that time I think there were about 16,000 or 18,000 students on campus. I've forgotten what the maximum was , but we thought in numbers that were closer to that than the numbers there are today. The Chamber of Commerce has always had a competitive attitude toward the University. I think it's because the campus gets its marching orders from Sacramento and is independent of Berkeley. They feel that they should have more input in campus planning and more compensation for shared services and city maintenance. I think there should be a more 177 Riess: clearly defined role between the two. It should have been defined a long time ago. There should be some way that this could be organized so that these two bodies could live together in harmony. It is a two-way street. I don't blame the University for having trouble with the city. I also don't blame the city, in a way, for having trouble with the University on some issues. So do you think it should be worked out at a city level, or a state level? Ratcliff: I think it's a state and city problem, not just a Berkeley campus and city problem. One of the problems with the Berkeley campus and the city is that everyone is so close together that we need an outside arbitrator. We need a powerful outside arbitrator. I don't personally think it's going to work until the governor or somebody up there in Sacramento says, "We're going to help to resolve this problem." Riess: Did groups like Town and Gown Club think that they were going to be able to resolve differences? Ratcliff: They hoped to create a better understanding, and socially they have. The Town and Gown Club is a great organization, in my opinion. Riess: Whatever these clubs are, they don't represent the town anymore . Ratcliff: That is true. It's mostly University, as far as Town and Gown is concerned. The Waterfront Committee, and a Proposal for a New Berkeley Riess: I noticed, when I was down at your office the other day, that you had drawn up one of the Berkeley waterfront plans. Ratcliff: Yes. I was on the Waterfront Committee back in the fifties and sixties, and basically interested in developing the waterfront into a park and recreation area. The Berkeley Waterfront Committee, when I got on it, was just getting over the reverberations of the Reber Plan. Do you remember the Reber Plan? Riess: No. 178 Ratcliff: Well, Reber had the idea that the way to resolve the problems of the bay was to make a big dike that would block up the Sacramento River and come around in front of the East Bay, separating the freshwater from the saltwater areas of the bay. Boats could then come in and get rid of their barnacles, harbors would be built, and a great maritime industry would develop. It was a monumental vision, a manmade concept for this whole bay. He was convinced that we had an opportunity here that nobody in the world had with all this fresh water coming down, and how could we control it. Well, people were not ready for that. There were the conservationists who wanted to protect the birds and wildlife, and most of all us who thought it would destroy the natural beauty of the bay, change the ecology, and threaten the delta. Riess: The estuaries. Ratcliff: All the estuaries and marshes would be gone, and all the flight patterns of the birds would be screwed up. Industry would take over. So that plan was not adopted. Then came the Santa Fe plan. About a thousand-foot band of shoreline was given to the Santa Fe , not really too long ago, for their development as a transportation corridor. Santa Fe, looking ahead, didn't see themselves using it for transportation, so they wanted to develop it. Riess: It was given to them? Ratcliff: I think so. Railroads were given corridors of land in order to stimulate growth. Riess: So they didn't see themselves developing it, though. Ratcliff: Well, they didn't see it being developed as a transportation corridor, as it was originally supposed to be. Southern Pacific was down there, too, and they had tracks, but Santa Fe owned a separate corridor all the way across in front of Berkeley and into Richmond. Reber was out, and I guess spurred on by some of that original thinking, Santa Fe was ready to develop their land for something else. Berkeley owned all the property out to the end of the Berkeley pier; almost half of Berkeley was under water, and Berkeley had big potential, because this was all very shallow. The average depth was four to six feet out to the end of the pier. It looked like it could easily be used if 179 somebody would just find the fill or take down a mountain and put it there. Riess: Masterful moves, right. I Ratcliff: Masterful moves. So, Santa Fe hired Victor Gruen to make a plan that would justify the development of Santa Fe land, and would include a complete concept for the rest of Berkeley, all the way out to the end of the pier. Riess: Gruen was on the West Coast? Ratcliff: Victor Gruen was in Los Angeles. They came up with a beautifully delineated, wonderful scheme- -shows Berkeley just expanding out with waterways and yacht harbors, fountains and a complete new city. Fifty percent of Berkeley would be out here. They were making the ideal Usonian Village at the expense of the bay. The land owned by Santa Fe would become highly important industrial- commercial land. The rest of it, the outer side, would be a great, new Venice of the north. It was a really very well- delineated thing and a beautiful concept. So Contini, who was a big designer and at one time one of the movers and shakers, and a very good public speaker, came up and presented it to the city council, the Waterfront Committee. I was absolutely blown by this, because it seemed to us that we would kill what's there, damage the bay, and create a completely new city, which might be good for somebody but would not be good for the people who are here. It was going to really damage the views and the natural setting that we have. I* Riess: So you spoke up against it? Ratcliff: Yes, several of us did, and toward the end it became a debate between me and Contini before the city council. I had the advantage, being local. Contini didn't know anybody, and I had the support of friends and good conservative -type people who were concerned about the ecology of the area. We felt that the plan was completely insensitive to the local needs and to a logical, slow, thoughtful growth. It would not help the people of Berkeley. The council voted, with one exception, against Contini. Riess: So interesting. And that night was the finish of that? 180 Ratcliff: Yes, it really was. Contini was absolutely, completely blown out of the water. He came out into the hall afterwards, completely surprised. Riess: But he hadn't a clue, probably, of the feeling of the city. Should he have done a study? Ratcliff: Well, he had gotten his instructions from Santa Fe. He had not come to the city, and he was not prepared for our reaction. We didn't argue that it wasn't a beautiful presentation. We were impressed by the concept itself, the scale of the proposal, the excitement of a water-oriented residential area. That's one side of the coin. But the other side of the coin of man invading the bay was something we could not live with. Riess: Well, he was making a new town. Ratcliff: Yes, he was. We didn't want a new town. What we wanted was some constructive ideas about the growth of our town. We weren't ready to die. We wanted to improve our waterfront. Riess: Well done! And didn't you draw up a waterfront plan also? Ratcliff: We drew a plan for the yacht harbor area, yes. We drew that about the same time that Contini and Victor Gruen were working on their big plan. This was a more modest plan, saying, "Well, okay, we've already filled this in with garbage. Let's try to use it, what we've got. We can never take this stuff out, but we'll just stop the growth and make a park out of it, essentially. " Riess: So it was a golf course. Ratcliff: Yeah, a golf course and a park, with the yacht harbor. Riess: And with commercial development on the Santa Fe strip. Ratcliff: Well, there were alternate schemes, and the city hired Garrett Eckbo at one point to give us a plan for crossing the freeway in a graceful way, and the development of that outside area. The Waterfront Committee recommended that they get a consultant, and we recommended Eckbo, who had had quite a bit of experience. He met with us quite a number of times and came up with a plan. Prior to that, we [Ratcliff & Ratcliff] had come up with our plan. Burns worked on that quite a bit. Burns was very interested in that. Riess: By that time, Save the Bay was certainly in the picture. [Save the San Francisco Bay Association begun in 1961.] 181 Ratcliff: Oh, yeah, then Sylvia McLaughlin and Kay Kerr got together and started that. Sylvia was on the Waterfront Committee, and Sylvia was on the Aquatic Park Committee, both. Aquatic Park, and the Entrance to Berkeley Ratcliff: Then I became chairman of the Aquatic Park Committee. The principal problem here was noise. We wanted the state, at that time, to include in their development an acoustic wall between Aquatic Park and the freeway. And they wouldn't do it. We got T.Y. Lin to come and help us make a proposal to put the whole thing underground, [laughing] A screwy idea, and it did not take. I thought it would work something like one of these dirigible hangers, you know, where they put railroad track on each side and just move the forms along the railroad track from one arch to the next. We had a scheme, whereby you could put the whole thing underground and put a park over the top of it. Riess: The whole what underground? Ratcliff: The whole freeway underground and put a park over the top. As seen from Berkeley you wouldn't know there was a freeway there. It would be going under a mound. Well, there was objection to it because they said it would cut the views out. Objections, also, because it was an expensive idea. Riess: So this is still the mid- fifties, then. Ratcliff: Yeah, we were in the fifties and sixties, someplace. That didn't work, but we continued to do things, trying to fix up the park. It's never been really very good because of the freeway noise. It's an acoustic slum, I'll tell you. It is just terrible down there. Riess: It's sad, because you think that you can go down and have a picnic, but you can't do that. Ratcliff: If it was a quiet place, many more people would use it. Anyway, we did promote a lot of activity. Peggy Hayes, in a memorial to Kenny Hayes, got some money together and put up the Kenneth Hayes Boat House to store the Berkeley Rowing Club shells. That gave a big boost to the program. We also worked on other areas and the details of running and improving the park, from paving the road and clearing the algae out of the water to helping with the nature center. 182 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Another project was the beautif ication of University Avenue. Where they were proposing the plan for improvement of University Avenue, I felt that it was a great opportunity for Berkeley to do something significant. I promoted the idea that there be no parking on University Avenue, and that the streets on the north and south paralleling University should be made into commercial streets so that parking and access to the commercial buildings could come in from the sides. University Avenue could have a wide parkway down the middle with a double line of big trees right down the middle of the road. If this had happened, the city would have done something that compared in scale and in concept with the University. We would have just a magnificent entrance to the town. I think it would have resulted in much higher land values throughout the city. It would have been in keeping with the concept of the Athens of the West. You'd have something you could be proud of. You could bring people in in a very elegant way. It was a time when I think that it might have been done without terrible upheaval. When they were really trying to fix things up, it would have been a logical time to do it. They ended up just putting the strip of greenery down the middle? They put in the center strip of lawn, and they put the trees on the sides. The problems with the trees on the sides is that the trees get in the way of the buildings. People are always arguing about their signs being covered up by trees. They are crowded, and the roots break the sidewalks. It is better than it was, but a compromise solution. The buildings and the trees should both have space. Were you on a design committee at the time this came up? I wasn't on an official committee, but I attended the meetings. This was in the sixties, late sixties? Yes, it was in the late sixties. You could certainly make a good argument for it. Was the University involved in that? You'd think they would have an interest. Ratcliff: No, it was a city project. 183 Other Pro Bono Work for the Citv of Berkeley Riess: You were also on the Sewer Committee and worked on updating University and Shattuck, the Havens Fountain? Ratcliff: Yes. The Havens Fountain was in front of the library. Weston Havens owned the block across the street from the library. Weston is a native son of Berkeley. His father, Frank Havens, owned a lot of real estate in town, and Weston has been the quiet recipient of what Frank left; He was persuaded that it would be a good idea, before the BART went through, to put a fountain in to add some beauty to Shattuck Avenue. Riess: Were you on these committees for your architectural input, to review design schemes? Ratcliff: I guess so. In this case, Weston hired Harwell Hamilton Harris, a well-known Los Angeles architect, to design the fountain. Riess: Has it been awkward ever, the distinction between the pro bono work and what the firm might actually be hired to do? Ratcliff: I don't think it's ever been very awkward. I gave a lot of time in those days to agencies that I felt needed help that really couldn't afford to buy it. It was a smaller town, and it was more personal. You did things because you knew the people who were involved and thought they were good ideas. Riess: Does your son Kit do this? [Christopher Ratcliff of The Ratcliff Architects] Ratcliff: Well, he's too busy running the business to do much. However, he has always been invloved in some public project. He was on the Recreation Commission, President of Stiles Hall, neighborhood councils and school committees in Berkeley. The Group, and 1MEN9.04 Riess: To finish with your social associations, as it were, could we talk about the two groups that are still important and fun for you, The Group, and 1MEN9.04? Ratcliff: Peg Gordon wrote a history of The Group, which I don't have in front of me. I haven't read it for a long time, so I can't 184 really give you very much detail without reading it again. It is ten couples . Riess: How important has The Group been to you? Ratcliff: It is very important. Some of our best friends belong. It is a very delightful thing to do. We meet once a month. Riess: Don't you give reports on subjects? It's not just simply social. Ratcliff: Oh, yes. Each time we meet one person leads a discussion or gives a paper on some subject of his or her choice. Everybody does it. It is composed of husbands and wives, and each person gives a dissertation in turn. Your turn comes up every twenty months or so. It's interesting. Some are lawyers, some are University people, some are teaching, and some have retired. Riess: And who started "1MEN9.04"? Bill [William F. ] Shepard? Ratcliff: The 1MEN9.04 started after Bill died. He started an organization called "The Tumey Gulch Marching and Chowder Society." That was made up of the friends of Charlie Bresnahan, and Charlie Bresnahan was the cat that lived next door to Bill Shepard. He and his father and his two brothers worked their way through the Depression by digging diatomaceous earth out of a canyon west of Mendota, known as Tumey Gulch. There's absolutely nothing that grows in Tumey Gulch. It's a wasteland, but there's diatomaceous earth there. At that time it was thought that if you mixed that with the adobe soil out in the valley it would lighten it up and make it better for agriculture. Anyway, they owned a mining claim. They didn't own the property. They had to do a hundred dollars worth of work every year to maintain the mining claim, so Bill went down to do a hundred dollars worth of work each year. One of the deals was that we'd go down once a year and establish a camp at Tumey Gulch, and stay there for about four days, and do absolutely nothing except tell jokes, clean and dirty, and talk about all kinds of things, mostly University things, because this was made up primarily of University people. One of the good things about it was, there were no stage props here at all. You had to invent absolutely everything. There weren't any swimming holes. There weren't any tennis courts. There was nothing in this valley. So you brought your kite and horseshoes, books, and things like this. It was fun. Seventeen years ago, Bill died suddenly. He had a heart attack in his office. He was in the Statewide [University] 185 office building on Oxford Street. (He was in charge of student affairs for the University.) It happened, I think, in February. The Tumey Gulch meeting was always held in April. The meeting had already been organized, he had already sent out his letters- -cryptic little letters, he had a very good sense of humor- -so I invited everyone to come to Mendocino County to our place. We've been going to Mendocino ever since. Riess: It's only once a year, though, that you're together? Ratcliff : We have one summer outing, and recently we have been having a winter work party, Thursday through Sunday. We meet at our place. We decided that the number on the culvert in front of our gate would be a good name for the group, so it's "1MEN9.04," which means, "Highway 1, Mendocino County, 9.04 miles from the south border." That's the typical system for numbering culverts . Riess: Do they bring their own food? Ratcliff: We have a committee that gets the food and drinks. We all share in the cooking and clean-up. And then there is Skinny Johnson- -you know Bob Johnson? I think he was skinny when he was in school. He's in the Class of '28. Anyway, he insists that this is a literary organization, so we are now, and have been for a long time, a branch of the Louisa May Alcott Society as well. We give literary productions called "literary contributions." On Saturday evening during our stay, somebody acts as the master of ceremonies, and many people contribute. Riess: What do you mean, "contribute"? Ratcliff: Well, you know, whatever comes to mind. Sometimes they're just jokes. Sometimes somebody recites some poetry. Stuff like that. Sometimes there are dirty jokes, I have to admit, some of which are funny- -not all of them, [laughs] Riess: It sounds like a form of the Bohemian Club. Ratcliff: Well, it's a little bit like that. It's probably more relaxed and less magnificent in scale, but there are some interesting people there that certainly would be welcome, I'm sure, at the Bohemian Club , and some Bohemians we might accept as members as well. Riess: Have the wives ever tried to fight their way in? Ratcliff: No, they never have, and I don't think they probably ever will. Contrary to what seems to be popular custom now, that all 186 organizations should include both sexes, I think it's really kind of a good thing to have something like this. It does something different. It gets you back, almost, to college days . We have two big tents that are sixteen feet square tents, and six bunks in each tent. Then we have a bunkhouse, and we have what we call a moonviewing house . Then we have a central building. We eat and do all that kind of thing in the central building, and some people have their own tents, so we can accommodate quite a few people. Each tent has its own little way of doing things. Kit's in a tent with Bill [William B.] Baker- -you know, Bill Baker works for the Statewide University administrationand Barry Clagett, at UCSF, and Butch Johnson, and others. Riess: So the next generation is being brought along? Ratcliff: Yes. They all want to keep it going, and the older generation's getting to the point where they really can't keep up anymore. These younger guys go down and play tennis ten hours a day. There is a constant tournament going on. It's exciting to see how everybody is so relaxed and doing the things they want to do. There are some personalities there. Do you know Richie Hay? He was in the Class of '36. He was an All -American end on the football team and also a basketball player. He was one of the best athletes that ever came through Cal, and he has a marvelous sense of humor. He was the president of the Big C Society, and he's the guy who they always get as master of ceremonies whenever they have a meeting. He comes, and he'll keep us in stitches the whole time. He was just born with this great gift of thinking up funny situations and being able to express himself. tM , <> EX O <4-l -P IH O 3 S iJ K cd o OS CO T-~i . o Q) <3i .0 K n 1* ac 0) Robert W. Ratcliff, Burns Cadwalader, and Murray Slama, 3408 Grove Street (Martin Luther King, Jr. Way), Berkeley, 1966. t-i 01 f. O. O t-t f. u -u c CO CO CC I t s I a, o 1 & c H t-l CO OJ iH 13 CO CO C- iH lH CO O c T3 -rl cfl l-i u c. (0 Q) C > ^ -H pa (II J= < 4-1 00 ON C 4J rH CO O > O CO U l-l rC 3 CO 0) Hi ~c CO a u i-H (1) CO CO 0) T3 4-1 CO * a) u H -o iH C cfl OWE . o 3 E 4-< Cfl 14-1 4-1 CO -H - - O CO OS H OS Representative Client List Alameda County Alameda County Association lor the Mentally Retarded Alameda Hospital Bank of America City of Alameda City of Berkeley City of Concord City of Livermore City of Oakland Contra Costa County East Bay Municipal Utility District East Bay Regional Park District Fidelis Company Fidelity Savings and Loan Association Highland Hospital Housing Innovations, Inc. Humboldt State University Inverness Properties. Inc. Kaiser Foundation Hospitals Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories Matson Navigation Company Modesto Memorial Hospital Oakland Ensemble Theatre Pacific Gas and Electric Company Pacific School of Religion Port of Oakland The Rucker Company Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital United States National Park Service United Stales Post Office United States Navy University of California: Berkeley. San Francisco, Santa Cruz University of the Pacific University Students' Cooperative Association Wells Fargo Bank Burns Cadwalader, Principal # C-2349 Peter G. Scott. Principal # C-4849 Syed V. Husain, Principal # C-3153 Robert W. Ratclifl. Principal # C-503 DonT. Kasamoto. Principal # C-3975 [A few pages from a brochure, The Ratcliff Architects, ca. 1978] Burns Cadwalader, AIA, Principal Burns Cadwalader attended the Uni versity of California at Berkeley, enter ing the field of architecture under the apprenticeship system. He has been a registered architect since 1957 and a principal in The Ratcliff Architects since 1961. Mr. Cadwalader's experience en compasses governmental administra tion centers, criminal justice facilities, health care facilities, schools and uni versities, recreational facilities, housing and masterplanning. Mr. Cadwalader's career in architec ture has been marked with continuous involvement with community, environ mental and planning issues at both the local and national level. His current in terests include total design for energy conservation in buildings, and provid ing a more humane environment for handicapped people. Representative projects include the University of California Berkeley Memo rial Stadium Press Box, rehabilitation of the historic Hotel Oakland and the mas- terplan for Bear Valley winter recrea tional development. Syed V. Husaln, AIA, Principal Syed Husain was educated in Bombay, India, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his Bach elor of Architecture degree in 1955. He became a registered architect in 1960. Since joining the firm in 1964, Mr. ' Husain guided it into its present position :. as one of the top health facilities design firms in Northern California. Representative clients include private ' health maintenance organizations such as Kaiser Foundation Medical Center, f multi-hospital associations such as the 1 Memorial Hospital Association of Stanis- : laus County, and the Veterans Adminis tration, Washington, D.C., the world's largest health-care facilities client. Mr. Husain is a member of the Amer ican Institute of Architects and the In dian Institute of Architects, an affiliate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He has lectured on the impact of Seismic Requirements on Hospital Planning for University of California Extension, and is an oral exam commissioner for the California State Board of Architectural Examiners. Don Kasamoto, Principal Don Kasamoto received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1956 and joined the firm in 1962. As Principal-in-Charge of Operations. Mr. Kasamoto monitors all projects to in sure that they are kept within estab lished budgets and time schedules. He is especially experienced with educa tional, research and laboratory facilities with complex or unique requirements. Mr. Kasamoto led the design of the Alameda Police Administration Build ing, University of California San Fran cisco Radiobiology Laboratory and the expansion of the Oakland International Airport's Passenger Baggage Terminal. He has been a consultant to the Cen ter for Independent Living (handi capped persons) and a member of the Code Review Task Force for the City of Berkeley. Robert Ratcliff, AIA, Principal Robert Ratcliff received his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1936 from the University of California at Berkeley, and has been a registered architect since 1941. He is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. As senior partner in the firm. Mr. Rat- clifl has ultimate responsibility for each project and necessarily maintains direct involvement. His many contributions to his commu nity, both as a professional and as a citi zen, including work on the City of Berke ley's masterplan revision, have earned him the Berkeley Chamber of Com merce's Norman Branguin Award and more recently, the distinguished Ben jamin Ide Wheeler Award for Public Service. Mr. Ratcliff has been Principal-in- Charge of the University of the Pacific Science Center, Computer Center and Campus Development Plan, Stockton; Rochdale Village Cooperative Student Housing, UC Berkeley, and the Ala meda County Administration Building. Oakland. Peter Scott, Principal Peter Scott received design degrees from Stanford University in 1956, and the Art Center School, Los Angeles, in 1960. He has been a registered architect since 1966 and joined the firm in 1962. Mr. Scott serves as Principal-in-Charge of Design, working with each project team to develop the strongest visual concepts and user-oriented solutions. He is a member of the Airpo.rt Land Use Commission for Alameda County, and has served on several other civic and community organizations over the past ten years. Mr. Scott was responsible for the de sign of PG&E's Engineering Research Center, San Ramon; Bank of America's new Oakland Main Office; California State Automobile Association. Oakland, and the masterplan and design of the City of Livermore Civic Center. : 5 ngmeenng Research Scir. ."arnon Church ol the Resurrection. Pleasant Hill /Vest Oakland Multi-Service Center :. Art in . '. n lei 'er.ter rer^eley Athenian School. Danvilli Rochdale V;.;age Student 1 lousing Berkeley Jidge House Loop Student housing. Berkeley Humboldt State Umv Science Center, Arcata lehurst School Library Oakland Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Laboratory West Oakland Multi-Service Center 3ar:k ol America Oakland K'.z.r. Office .. ; ' - T Bear Valley Condominiums Bank of America Branch Oakland Lilval Development Co . Stockton >akland RehabL::a':on pfe^"* Hr Lone Rock Ranch Mendoc.no County Vest C a.-;:^r.a Branch Library '. - ^i IlvJl lUi J 187 VII RATCLIFF, SLAMA & CADWALADER, 1961 Incorporation Riess: Okay. Changing the subject. In 1961, you became Ratcliff, Slama & Cadwalader, and you moved into a new building. Was there a lot of negotiating of the terms of all of this? Was it entered into lightly or heavily? Ratcliff: I was trying to look ahead and make a situation which would last a long time. I envisioned this corporation as going on as it has, and for a very long time in the future. It seemed to me that a corporation would be a good idea, since we probably would want to involve other people in the future. It was one way to focus the responsibility that we were all going to jointly share. We could have also done this as a partnership. Also, at that point neither Burns nor Murray were financially well fixed. I was the only one that had enough money to operate the firm. I felt that was okay, but if these people were going to become full partners, we ought to have a way to spread responsibility and recognition. It was a good idea. They were wonderful partners. Riess: Were there guidelines for incorporating that you just turned to? Ratcliff: Oh, it was very easy to do. My lawyer from the beginning was Dave Gideon, Class of '36 at Cal, and a close personal friend. He operated a firm which specialized in architectural and construction law, and he was very well-informed on architectural matters. Riess: Well, it must have felt quite different the day that that was all done. 188 Ratcliff: It sure did. I did it with, in a way, some misgivings, and yet with a feeling that it's better to do it sooner than later, and that seemed like the logical time. Looking back, I think it was. As a matter of fact, I didn't equalize our salaries at that point. A corporation is a stock ownership -type organization, so I sold them each 200 shares, and I kept 600 shares. I charged them $10 per share. That came out to $2000 apiece. Gideon said it was a ridiculously low price. I told Dave, "I want them to be partners. They can't afford more than that, and I want to start this way." He insisted that I keep more than 50 percent of the shares because, he said, "You will just simply go on your face unless you manage this thing and run it, not only because of good will, but because, in fact, you own it. You must have the controlling interest." I thought that sounded like the right thing to do, anyway. Murray and Burns didn't object to that. They really couldn't object. In a sense, it was almost a gift. But I didn't feel comfortable not being equalized, and very shortly after that we equalized salaries. We didn't equalize the ownership for quite a long time. Dave just wouldn't let me do it. Equalizing salaries quickly was a very good idea. It kept the morale of the group up and was symbolic of the kind of cooperation we expected and which we had. Riess: The brotherhood. Ratcliff: Yeah, it was really great. We shared every problem. We shared every success. That's the way I wanted to have it. Working for Alameda County Riess: You got three or four very big jobs right around that time. How did you get the Alameda County buildings, and what was the association with Van Borg and Nakamura? Ratcliff: First, I went down to the county. I knew Kent Pursel who had been a member of the city council in Berkeley until he became a member of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Then when he became chairman of the board of supervisors I called him up and said, "I want to have lunch with you. I want to talk about doing work for the county." "Well," he said, "okay. Come on down. We'll talk." 189 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Before we left his office, he said, "I want to start out with the bottom line. You don't want any work for the county right now. Between you and me, it is corrupt, and it starts with the board of supervisors." He went down through the list of problems that they had, which were hard to believe. He had been on the board for a while, but he said, "I'm not going to leave this board until it's corrected. I'm here to clean it up. " The gist of the message was that the board had been passing out the good jobs to their friends. In one case the good friend had a country place in the Sierra foothills which he kept fully stocked with food and liquor which was open to each member of the board. He also made large gifts to the members and in exchange he was given every job he asked for. Kent Pursel didn't like that. You had had no idea what you were asking. I didn't know what I was getting into at all! Well, this happened before the Van Borg situation occurred. So then he said, "I tell you what, this is going to improve, and when it gets to the point where I think you can do business with us, I will let you know." And one day he called up and said, "We're going to build a new administration building here, and it's going to be okay to apply." "It's going to be okay to apply?" up sufficiently? That means he had cleaned it He said, "I think it's going to be a job that you could do and feel comfortable working with- -with us- -and the problems have been straightened out." I had never done any work with Van Borg, who had inherited Russ [Russell] de Lappe's office. Russ de Lappe had died shortly before this. He had done a lot of work, especially up and down the valley, in Modesto and Turlock and other places in the valley, where I guess he may have originally been born. I'm not sure. He had a brother-in-law, or a brother, who lived out there, who promoted all this work for him. He had done some city halls and county buildings. Van Borg inherited this, and so with that background I thought it would be a good idea to have a joint venture, since this was really the first public 190 job that we had undertaken, courthouse . I had never tried to lay out a Riess: So you approached Van Borg, then. Ratcliff : So I approached Van Borg. Riess: And was it a competition at all? Ratcliff: Oh, yes. [John Carl] Warnecke was down there. There were several other guys trying to get the work. What happened was, Kent Pursel introduced us around. Now we had the inside track, like Cerruti in a different way. [laughter] This time the other poor guys were out, and we were in. But Warnecke came down and participated. He was our only real stiff competition. But we got the job. I think it was based on politics and good will that was promoted, largely, by Kent Pursel. Manuel Rasetto and Lee Sweeney joined with Kent, which gave us a majority of three, and the other two fell in line. Lee Sweeney, who had been on the board a long time, he used to sell fixtures for Crane Company and he claimed he was a close friend of my father. So it wasn't a Johnny- come -lately situation. Riess: Does that mean that his fixtures were used in the building? Ratcliff: No, but he told us what fixtures he wanted us to specify. But they had to accept equal alternates. Riess: Thu , could get very tricky. Ratcliff: Yeah, but we had no trouble. The county had a new man named Herb Crowle, who was the county public works director. He became a close personal friend. He was the guy in the county who put the program together and conducted the county business. He was a very knowledgeable guy and great to work with. We worked with Mitch Van Borg, and that was not a wholly satisfactory relationship, [laughs] It didn't work out very well. Riess: Once you had gotten into that position with the county, it was hard to dislodge Ratcliff Architects, or is that not so? Ratcliff: Hard to dislodge us? 191 Riess: Yes. Ratcliff: True. We developed a good working relationship. Riess: Who actually did the design for the garage? Ratcliff: For the garage, most was done in Van Borg's office. Riess: And the administration building? Ratcliff: They influenced the design heavily in both buildings. We had quite a bit of input, but I'd say that they influenced the design more heavily than we did. Riess: What was the particular strength of Ratcliff, Slama, Cadwalader, then? Ratcliff: We participated in every phase of the work. Actually, during the construction period we did all the supervision on both the jobs, and practically all of the work with the county committees, all the way through, interpreting their requirements . The Van Borg office was extremely uncooperative or unwilling to work together as a team. We really had to let them do their thing, or break up the joint venture. I felt that it was uncalled for and unnecessary. But, in the course of doing it, we became very close friends with the county. In the end, Herb Crowle was one of the biggest promoters we ever had, and we're really very close with him, and with the contractor, Stolte Construction. They were sending work our way afterwards for a long time. This was the other side of the coin which made the job worthwhile. As a matter of fact, we're still doing county work. Today we're doing a thirty million dollar hospital for them. When you were in the office yesterday, drawings of it were on the wall. That's for the county. We are still in good graces with the county. I'm not going to go into the problems with Van Borg, but they became visible, and they were not good. Riess: You mean it became visible to the county people what was going on? Ratcliff: Yes, unfortunately. I think it was visible to the county supervisors, as well as the county staff. So it wasn't a good scene. But anyway, I was committed to going through with it and to turning in a good job. We were going to do something that we could be proud of, and they could, too. I think it 192 turned out pretty much that way. the county. We came out very well with Riess: I'm interested that it was that earlier move on your part, going down and talking to people and making yourself available, that was the kickoff . Ratcliff: That started the ball rolling. [Interview 6: June 28, 1989 ]## Riess: Last time we ended the interview, off the tape, by your saying that after you had successfully worked for the county doing the administration building and the garage, you "never felt that you competed fairly anymore." I thought you should be given a chance to expand on that statement. Ratcliff: [laughs] I'd better. What I was really trying to say was that the county had had a very bad experience with architects prior to the time that we came aboard. There had been a lot of influence peddling, paid for with liquor and trips to Hawaii, and stuff like this. They weren't used to doing business on a professional basis in which there were no payoffs. The county staff was new. We had come in on a wave of change, and we couldn't do anything wrong. It didn't last forever, but it lasted for a while. Riess: Did your fees tend to be lower? Ratcliff: No. I think they were average. We did it then on a percentage basis. Now we usually estimate how much our costs are going to be, how much of a profit we hope to make, and what the costs of our engineers will be, and negotiate a fee on the basis of costs. People usually translate this back into a percentage of the construction cost, to see how it fits into the total picture . Contractors and Architects, and Murray's Contribution Riess: When you were working for the county, did you find yourself always using the same construction people? Ratcliff: No. Projects were always bid. All public work was bid. The first experience we had with the county was on the administration building, where Stolte was the general contractor. We worked with a guy named Cece Murphrey, who was one of their chief people at that time. Cece taught us a great 193 deal about contracting and about business. He was a very experienced person, and it was really a great pleasure to work with him. Riess: I should think until you really had a lot of experience it could be a lot of groping in the dark. Ratcliff: Yeah, experience is a great teacher and you discover how important the other guy is . I found to my great pleasure that there was a complete integrity displayed by Stolte at that time. Everything was above board and straightforward. This was recognized by the county, too, and I don't think they always experience that. So the project, from my point of view, was personally very successful and very rewarding, as it was to the county. Riess: Do you sort of try to stay with the same general contractors if you possibly can? Ratcliff: You can't really. You invite them to bid, but almost always the person who has the low bid gets the job. On public work you have to take competitive bids. You do have to give it, I think, to the low bidder, unless you can show some reason to reject them. Most general contractors at this level are good people and very experienced. Riess: Do they usually have some one person who is most closely liaisoned with design? Ratcliff: No, not really. Contractors are chosen for their ability to do the job as efficiently as it can be done- -you know, make money. They are basically in there to make money, to get it done and get it over with, make money and get out, keep everybody happy. But you do find people, and Cece was one of them, who are sensitive to design. He would be inclined to wait and think and ask questions before he did something, [laughs] Riess: I asked that partly because I wondered if the edges were blurring at all in these professions. At Cal Poly there is a major in architectural construction. Ratcliff: Yes? That's a very good idea. Riess: In a firm as big as yours, do you push people in the direction of being your construction experts? I'm curious whether in construction firms there is someone who is real close to being 194 an architect, and whether in architectural firms there's someone who's close to being a contractor. Ratcliff: I think there's a blurred line probably on both sides. Almost all of the young people we get want to be strictly architects. They have no field experience and are not prepared to supervise construction. We have found our best field supervisors among older architects who have had many years of experience. An architect really needs as a supervisor a person who has a very good memory, who can understand the drawings, and who is familiar with the construction techniques and can anticipate problems . Riess: Very good memory? Why that? Ratcliff: Because there is a lot to remember- -drawings, specifications, codes, materials and techniques, et cetera, and what problems might occur within the trades. It starts when you start digging the first hole. Are you hitting the kind of ground that you expected to, or is there an engineering problem here? Water is such an important and dangerous thing in building. It's the one thing that you can't predict sometimes. Before things are covered up, problems have to be resolved. It takes a certain amount of experience. A new person coming from school may have read about these things , but he hasn't experienced them, and I don't think it's possible, really, for a young person to just move in with the kind of knowledge he needs to run a difficult project. Some learn it very quickly. Most of the people we've had who have been the best people at this have been older people who have been burned a lot of times and who know, by experience, what kinds of problems you can bump into, and how important it is to keep up with the momentum of the project. Riess: That's interesting. You would think, in a way, that it would be like an apprentice positionsend them out to the field first. Ratcliff: We give them field experience as quickly as possible, but most people in the office have not had much field experience. A good field inspector isn't necessarily a good designer. He isn't necessarily a good businessman. He's just a fellow who's really had the experience of doing it and gets along well with people . 195 Murray Slama became very interested in this aspect of work, of actual construction. Murray was an interesting guy. He felt that a building wasn't finished until it was built. He was very interested in following every step of the way through to the end. He wrote a book, finally, on construction techniques and pitfalls, the kinds of things you'd look for when you inspected a job. It was an inspector's manual, really. He was very successful with his book. The book discusses every trade, and it follows a project right through. It's very well-organized. I think he's had ten or more editions of this book, keeping it up to date. I haven't seen it recently, but it's very illuminating. You find a lot of things in it. Almost anybody can read this thing and learn something [Construction Inspection Manual, by Murray A. Slama, Building News, Inc., Los Angeles, 1973]. Riess: Sounds like you were lucky to have had him. Ratcliff: Yes, we were very lucky to have had him. There are many sides to it. That's one of the things that is interesting about architecture, I think, that it's complex, it's really a complete way of life. Riess: Financial Management for Architectural Firms is another book that Murray Slama did, and that's "a guide to profit planning, and project budgeting, and billing rates, and payroll, and cost accounting, and compensation." Ratcliff: Yes. He was the motor behind that part of our work, and it saved us a lot of money. Riess: And those principles have continued to guide the Ratcliff Architects? Ratcliff: Yes, and they have advanced since then. When Murray left, we simply had to pick up where he left off. Murray took a lot of the skill that we had in both those fields with him. A Talent for WorkinE with Staff and with Clients Riess: What was your best talent in the sixties and seventies, when you were very active? Ratcliff: I think, probably, keeping everybody happy, [laughing] 196 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: No kidding! I have to talk to you about that, what you believe about yourself? Is that really That's one thing that I think I was good at, getting good people and keeping them working together well, and recognizing their ability and somehow encouraging them. I felt as though I was pretty effective in doing that, and I participated in almost every aspect of the work. I was interested in the initial concept of projects, and working on direction, and the general, overall, big ideas, and that sort of thing. You mean, big design ideas? Design ideas, yes, and general approach, effective with clients. All modesty aside- - I was pretty Super modesty here, I suppose, but I feel that at first I was more effective with most of the clients than the rest of them. Generally, I knew them to start with, and then I think part of that was sensitivity and experience. I feel that it's terribly important for an architect to be receptive to the situation, to what the client is anxious to achieve, how he fits into the project, how much he really knows about what he wants to do, whether he's telling you, in his words, something that you're understanding correctly. Sometimes people tell you things, and they really mean something that doesn't come through. You've got to sort of adjust and find out what the real message is. How did you do that? When you were in a conference with a new client, did you do a lot of sketching? Yes. I did some with eagle drafting pencils and a lot with conversation. A lot of it's really understanding what the owner's objective is. The way you approach a big building is a little different than the way you approach a residence. The issues in a residence get to be emotionally involved with a person's lifestyle, and that's one kind of thing. With a building, it's usually less personal. You're designing something for a group of people, a team or others, and you're not usually talking directly to the individual who's going to sit in the desk. You're probably talking to the supervisor. Would you rather have a client very engaged, or would you rather have a client who says, "Look, Bob, I know that you know how to handle this." 197 Ratcliff: I want an intelligent client who's very engaged in the areas where he needs to be engaged, that is not meddling in some of the things that he really doesn't know much about and that he shouldn't try to really get involved with. The client won't get what he wants unless he gets engaged; he's got to be involved. I always have told them, "This isn't going to be your house unless you have a big input, and it's not going to be what you want unless you get your points across and not till you really are understood. You've got to read me as I've got to read you. We've got to just be sure we're talking the same language. That's absolutely basic." Most people like to be dealt with in that way. They like to feel that it's important. They know their ideas are important to them. They like to feel somebody else is interested and really wants to understand them. Riess: In the sixties, then, and perhaps into the seventies, when a new project would come in, no matter what the area, you would tend to be the first contact that they would have with the firm? Ratcliff: Yes. During those periods I was the one who generally was approached by the client, and so I generally was the lead principal. That didn't take place in every case, but in general that's what did happen. Riess: Walter Gropius in an interview in 1970 said, "My only talent, I think, is to keep things together- -to keep people together as an organization." [Innovations in Wood, Vol. VI, No. 1, p. 12.) Ratcliff: [laughs] Nice. I didn't know he said that. Highland Hospital Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: How did you get started in hospital work? your expertise? How did you develop Well, we had never done any work on hospitals. So when the County of Alameda decided to build a new facility at Highland Hospital, we thought again of a joint venture with an architect who was experienced in hospitals. After inquiring around, we decided to ask Rex [W.] Allen if he would do it, and he agreed. He had just been working on the French Hospital in San Francisco. He had done a number of hospitals. Is he East Bay? 198 Ratcliff: No, he's San Francisco. He later became president of the AIA. We made a presentation to the county and got the job. This was in 1965. It was an eleven million dollar job, which was a big building at that time. The work was done in our office, but Rex came over and participated in all of the general planning ideas, and he provided us with a person we call a "project architect," a fellow named Jan Smeckens , who had done a lot of hospital work. In the course of that, we hired people who had been doing hospital work in different offices around. So all of a sudden we built up a team of knowledgeable hospital architects and draftsmen. Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: You hired them for the short-term. It was just for the project, yes. Is that when you got Syed Husain? Yes. Sy came aboard at that time, and he stayed with us and became a principal. He's been very active and is the person who has led the medical team in our office ever since, very effectively. It's interesting how you get passed around. You do work for one hospital, and every other hospital watches. The medical neighborhood is really small, and everybody knows what's going on. They know all the people involved, and so you get passed from one person to another. Your reputation becomes all -important. You must do a good job! You get a chance to correct your mistakes, also. assuming you made a few mistakes at Highland. I mean, We never did a job where we didn't make a mistake. This is just par for the course. You can't do these complicated things perfectly. That's so painful to hear that, you know?! There are just too many people involved. Sometimes there are outright errors. Sometimes things are not well coordinated, such as the location of mechanical work. Sometimes, in hospital work, and more often than not, new equipment comes along, and new ideas come along, so that as you progress through the job you find that there are some better ways of doing things. Some new equipment is developed. In that first hospital we did, all the radiology equipment was made for one power system, and before we got to construction, more powerful 199 equipment was available, and we had to redesign the whole electric system to serve the new equipment. Sometimes there are mistakes, and sometimes, as you progress, you discover better ways to do things. Mistakes. Honorable Men, and Insurance We've had pretty good luck. More often than not we've been able to anticipate the problems. I remember on the County Administration Building we had what I thought was a terrible mistake. The fans for the main building were in a penthouse above the fifth floor, which was the top floor of the building. For some reason we hadn't provided sound barriers for the noise and vibration that would be generated by these fans . The county board of supervisors had their offices right underneath this. Well, when they put in the fans and they turned them on, before they buttoned anything up, I knew we were in terrible trouble. So this was going to be a big extra. It was clearly a mistake. We should have put in a sound barrier. I told Herb Crowle we would take care of it, and I called up our insurance people and told them what we planned to do. They asked if the county had objected. I told them that the county had not objected yet, because the building wasn't finished. "But we have to fix it now or it's going to shut the building down. It'll just be a mess!" They said, "Well, we won't insure you if you go ahead to fix this, unless the county objects . " I felt that our reputation was at stake, so we went ahead anyway. It cost about fifteen thousand dollars. I thought our reputation's worth more than fifteen thousand bucks. We could argue with these guys later. So we went ahead and did it, and when we got through, the head person in the insurance company's San Francisco office became involved. They told him about this, apparently, and he called me up and sent a letter of congratulations, and the company didn't even take the deductible off. They felt we had saved more than the deductible, and they paid the whole show. That had never happened to me before, or since. Riess: That's very interesting. What a bunch of honorable men! Ratcliff: When that hit the county- -boy, our stock just [snapping his fingers] went like that. It was just terrific. It was really very rewarding to us . 200 Riess : Have you had the same group of insurers over the long period? Ratcliff: We had Continental Casualty for a long time. Now we've got a different outfit. Riess: Was that a company that your father had dealt with? Ratcliff: No, it was a new company. Continental Casualty was then the biggest insurer of architects and engineers on professional liability, so-called malpractice. Riess: Is that something that has been more a consideration in your day than in your father's day? Ratcliff: Oh, yeah. He didn't carry it. And I didn't have it at all when I started. You can't operate without it, now. Riess: Was it, perhaps, first important when you were on the county building? Ratcliff: That's about when we started. We didn't get involved until we got into some pretty big work. Then we realized it was important . Ratcliff: We've had some difficulty recently because our engineers have been denied insurance, and so the errors that they make fall onto our carrier, which is a little bit awkward. We've got a case like that right now in the office where the structural engineer made an error in the design of concrete mix, which is a hard thing for architects to pick up. Anyway, that's the kind of the risk you run. We just would assume the engineer would know what he's doing. Riess: So this means you were using someone new, probably. Ratcliff: No, we weren't. We had used this engineer before quite a few times. We never had a problem with him, and we think he is a very good engineer. I don't know how it happened that we didn't know. I think when his policy expired the company would not renew, so he got caught. Riess: Sounds awkward. Ratcliff: Yes, that was. Riess: In 1969, you joined the Herrick Hospital board. Ratcliff: I wasn't on the board. I was on the advisory committee. 201 Riess: Vas that because of your expertise on building matters, or because of your community role? Ratcliff: Oh, I think it was partly for both, but perhaps more for a community role than building matters. They wanted to get more community representation on the advisory board, partly because of their new building program. Environmentally Conscious Practice vs the Competitive World Riess: There's no particular place to ask this question, but did you ever decide, categorically, that there were certain kinds of work that you wanted not ever to be associated with, as a firm? Ratcliff: Well, we really never made a formal decision about that. But we didn't apply for work where we thought that the project would have a negative effect on the environment. Riess: Can you give an example? Ratcliff: Offhand I can't, but there was nothing major. Riess: For instance, if it were a shopping center that was going to require destroying an estuary- -well , somebody' s going to get the job. Ratcliff: That's always the argument: if you don't do it, somebody else will, and don't you think you could do a better job than somebody else? Riess : What do you do with that argument? Ratcliff: I think it's a good argument. But in real life, if you don't get really enthusiastic about a project, you don't get it anyway. 1 think if we had ever really been asked to do something that we were clearly opposed to, we probably would have written to the people and explained our position. Actually, the problem we faced most of the time was that we needed the work, so few things were turned down. We took what came our way and we were able to maintain a fairly even flow of work. It wasn't, probably, the greatest possible selection, but it was not bad. 202 Riess: Are you talking about a particular time when architecture was in a slump, or are you just talking about the sheer competitiveness? Ratcliff : I guess what 1 am saying is that there seems to be enough work to go around, but there is a limited amount of the best, and stiff competition to get it. For the really good work, nowadays people will spend a month making drawings and preparing sketches and even whole concepts to be presented at the interview. Esherick did that with the Mills College Art Building. He had it all drawn up, an impressive schematic plan. His office really spent a lot of time in doing it. Riess: And all is fair in love and war? V Ratcliff: Of course it is. He got the job, and I think he did a very nice job of it. In some cases, you might do that if you felt that was necessary. In other cases, you may have personal connections which cover all the bases anyway. I think in this case he has personal connections which do that, most of the time. We made an effort to get that project. We understood the program, met and discussed the project with the college, and prepared some graphic material. We made a good presentation. But Holy Smoke! Esherick was halfway through schematic design! I didn't realize they were going this far. Afterwards, I could see there was no possible way that we could have gotten the job in the face of their presentation. Riess: The closer you are to the scuttlebutt and the gossip, the better. Is there an organized way of-- Ratcliff: Gossip committee? Well, I guess everybody is on that committee . Riess: If you decide not to compete for a project because you think it's environmentally harmful, then do you make a statement so that the whole world knows that? Unless someone knows, you've done it in a vacuum. Does the situation ever arise where you actually go public, saying that you think that this is not a good idea to do such-and-such? Ratcliff: On the Berkeley Waterfront Committee, we became quite vocal. When Victor Gruen came up with his proposal for Berkeley--! told you about that. 203 University of the Pacific. Unfinished Business Riess: How did you get the University of the Pacific work? You mentioned to me an interview with the president, Robert Burns. Ratcliff: That was really a cold lead. We didn't know anybody on that campus . Riess: A "cold lead"? Ratcliff: It was new territory. They planned to build a student health center, and we applied and were invited to be interviewed. The interview took place in The Tower at UOP. I remember it well. I got to the meeting, and everybody was there waiting for Dr. [Robert Edward] Burns, the president, who was a feisty little guy with a twinkle in his eye. He suddenly arrived, and everybody stood up as he came in. [laughs] We shook hands and sat down, and immediately he started telling me that he had a lot of experience with architects, and almost none of it had been good. He thought that we were a queer bunch, that we all were anxious to make monuments and do things that would generate great respect for us at the expense of the client who would be paying for the bills. It was a purposely tough exaggerated language. Then he asked what my feelings were about this, whether I was interested because I thought there was an opportunity to make a monument, or whether I was interested in it because I thought there was an opportunity to serve the university, [laughter] Everybody was snickering, I guess they may have heard this before and saw that I was on a pretty hot spot. So I made eye contact with Dr. Burns and said, "Thank you. I'd like to try to answer those questions." Everybody snickered. I decided that he had asked for a straight answer and that I would give it. So, carefully and candidly, I told him what I thought the architect's role was, what my goals were, and what I felt the owner's responsibilities were, what the basis would be for an agreeable arrangement, that it was a two-way street, and when both parties saw the street this way it could be a really beautiful avenue. Riess: Wonderful! Ratcliff: [laughing] I think that's the reason I got the job. He was asking for something, and he didn't pull any punches, and neither did I. I found out later that they had had difficult 204 problems and were very anxious to get somebody who would listen. University of the Pacific's a little different than the University of California, it's more like a family. The University of California is more like a corporation, a complete bureaucracy. Out there, it is much less complicated. The president watches what goes on and so does the vice-president. If a person gets on staff and works himself into a position of tenure there, they are there for life. This doesn't necessarily bring forth the kind of competitiveness and the kind of quality, perhaps, that you sometimes get when high standards are put above all other aspects of a person--! mean, high standards of production and leadership. I found that most of the people there were just devoted to the place. The people who were running the institution all felt that way about it. Riess : Do you continue to do work for them? Are you the campus architects there, now? Ratcliff: We were for a long time, but we're not anymore. I don't know exactly what happened, but something happened that caused us to fall out of favor. We did their master plan several times and remodeled a lot of buildings --did their health center and student union building and music building in Stockton, as well as several projects at the UOP Dental School in San Francisco. But some friction developed, I think, within the campus that finally resulted in problems. We found ourselves in the middle, unable to move. Dr. Robert Winterberg, who was in charge of all the projects for UOP, told us that they had a donor who wanted to improve the old music building. They had told this donor that for one million dollars this music building could be made the best music hall in Stockton. This person felt that would be just what she wanted, and she gave them a million bucks. So we were asked to examine the building, write a program, and make a cost estimate to do that. Well, we hired engineers and examined the building, and there was not way for a million dollars you could really fix it. There was a worn-out ventilation system. There was no air-conditioning. Plumbing and electrical needed major repairs. Everything about the building was in trouble. We made a very complete estimate and gave it to them with several options, all of which exceeded the budget. They were in a dilemma, because they had already told the donor what her money would buy, and the decision to proceed was delayed. ** 205 Finally, all of a sudden there came a blast from the president's office that we were delaying the job and hadn't performed under our agreement. We never actually had an agreement. There was a gap of communication that we never could understand. I'm not sure that the president of UOP at the time, Stanley McCaffrey, or his vice-president, Cliff Dochtermann, ever saw the estimates or understood what the problem really was. Our contact had been with Dr. Winterberg. I wrote a letter to Winterberg and offered to come and talk about it. I asked for a meeting with Stan. His final words were, "I would rather that you didn't do that." I said, "Okay, forget it." But I am sorry. It was more than the loss of the job. I think they should have made it clear Vith us. UC Berkeley, a Different Matter- -Remodelling Riess: To move from the University of the Pacific to the University of California- - . Ratcliff: Shall I be clear? Riess: [laughing] Yes! Ratcliff: Things have changed, but in the days of Louis DeMonte the way they handled the selection process in Berkeley seemed to vary with the job. Sometimes we were sent an R.F.P. and asked to submit material and be interviewed. Other times, we've been just simply called up and told "You've got a project." Today there are more people in the act, more questions asked, and it's much more complicated to deal with the University than it was when Louis DeMonte and Norm Jensen were there. It seemed to be a more hands-on, more direct, closer client-architect relationship than it is now. The first buildings we did were the agricultural buildings. We were able to talk to the professors about their laboratories. Dan [Daniel I.] Arnon [biochemist], for example, had his own laboratory, and he wanted it his way. We spent a lot of time with him, working out exactly how he wanted to do it. It was a direct contact. Everybody participated, and we had round-table discussions with the different professors. That's changed now. They've separated architects from faculty, or users, and we have to work through a project manager. That Request for proposals 206 Riess : Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: may have administrative advantages, but it has some bureaucratic disadvantages . At Stockton you presented to Dr. Burns, directly to the Regents? Here did you present In Stockton, we presented directly to Dr. Winterberg, who took it to the president and the regents. For the UC campuses, the projects are presented to the Regents by the campus architects, not by the executive architect. So you are more distanced. The distance I am speaking of is during the planning process, interpreting the program and making the plans. Is it satisfying to do remodeling and renovation? Yes, it is. There is a personal satisfaction in dealing with people and there is design involved at every stage. The inside of a building is where you live. It is as important as the outside, maybe more important to the person who lives there than the outside. Even Frank Lloyd Wright used to say: it's not the walls and the roof that counts --it's the space that's enclosed. There is a point that you can make about that, but it's much more satisfying, in a way, to do the whole thing. Then you can see it from the outside as well as from the inside, and you can express the whole concept. UC Santa Cruz, and the Landscape Architects Ratcliff: My first experience at Santa Cruz was with Jack Wagstaff , who was the campus architect, and Dean McHenry, who was then the chancellor. There were other people on committees and staff things, but those were the two people that guided the work and made the decisions. I knew Jack Wagstaff in college, and I t. .nk that was the reason we were invited to go down there in the first place, to design the Chancellor's house and later do the student apartments [Student Apartments, UCSC 1971, Ratcliff, Slama & Cadwalader] . Jack was actually the first person that they hired for Santa Cruz, and a wonderful sensitive architect. Dean McHenry was more reserved and more conservative than Jack, an ardent conservationist whose second interest is plants and nature. He was a great person to have had as the first chancellor when the general plan was evolving and this wonderful natural site was being invaded by the campus. 207 Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Thomas Church was influential, too. Tommy Church and Dean McHenry saw eye to eye on protecting the natural setting. Tommy was a wonderful person to work with, I must say. He was an exciting person. Did you work directly with him on the Santa Cruz campus? Yes, I did. He was so creative and so informal. It was exciting to talk to him. He'd come to the job and go out on the site, take off his shoes, put on boots, open his little briefcase, and get out a little box with pencils and charcoal and a charcoal -type eraser, and a pad of paper. He'd get an idea and he'd make a charcoal sketch of his idea. And all the time there was this wonderful conversation. He had a good background in plant materials. You learned something every time you met with him. McHenry was just devoted to him. Everybody was. He was fantastic. He really had a positive influence all over. He was so willing to take another person's ideas, and work with them. People felt like coming out with things when they were talking to him. It sounds opposite from what I've heard about Wurster. was not a person with whom you could discuss ideas. Wurster Well, that may be. My experience with Bill Wurster was limited, although I knew him over a long period of time. I never felt the same openness and enthusiasm, some way. Tommy Church was so open. You felt as though there were no holds barred. You just could get with him right away. Not too many people are able to do that. Bill had his own way. People always used to say that Bill had a wonderful bedside manner. Now, you've talked about Tommy. You've talked about Garrett Eckbo. Have there been other landscape architects you feel have been important in your practice? Tommy Church and Eckbo were probably the two most important people to me. But we had good experiences with many landscape architects . 208 Strong Designers and Project Teams at The Ratcliff Architects Riess: Who do you feel have been the strongest designers in The Ratcliff Architects? Ratcliff: I think Burns is a very sensitive designer and has had a big influence on the quality of our work. His principal interest is in design, and on most of the projects he's had an input in the design. Riess: I've noted that he has worked on housing and community and urban projects. Ratcliff: I think that's accurate, yes. Riess: Peter Scott? Ratcliff: He is a very bright fellow. He designs well, writes well, speaks well, and he has strong personal prejudices and direction. He had his own way of doing things, which didn't really generate a lot of support from the rest of the office. He developed his own answers and didn't ask many questions. Peter had an idea that design was done in one way, somehow, and that there are definite rights and wrongs. He wrote a long paper on his approach to design and color selection which he presented to the office. I think that the people in the office felt that it cramped their style. People wanted to be a little freer to retrace their steps and be less efficient, I guess. Pete was very concerned about making money. The design process is a very difficult thing to control, and it's not efficient unless it is tightly controlled. I guess we were not really ready for that. Riess: Peter Scott's educational background was a little bit different [BA in Design, Stanford; Art Center School, Los Angeles]. I wondered whether that was what made him go in a different direction. The graphic design. Ratcliff: I think part of it was that, and partly the fact that he is almost as interested, I think, in graphic design as he is in architecture, and is disturbed by the compromises which are inevitable when you work with a team. He is a good architect and best working by himself. Riess: Does graphic design suggest something more two-dimensional than three - dimens ional? 209 Ratcliff: I think so, though he understood three dimensions. He's got a lot going for him and a lot of the qualities that you'd like as a person. He's a good guy. Sy [Syed Husain] has a lot of good ideas. His work has almost always been focused on the medical. His principal input has been in his knowledge and background in medical architecture. He keeps himself up to date on all the new equipment and new procedures and work that is being done around the world. He is a gold mine of information. He is a very capable all-around architect widely recognized in the medical profession. Through him, we have developed a large medical clientele. Don Kasamoto came to us on loan from Hachiro Yuasa some twenty years ago. He became a principal at the same time Peter Scott did and has had a strong steadying influence on what makes an architectural office work. He is good at everything, from running the projects to office management and personnel. Nothing escapes him. He plays an essential role. Kit Ratcliff joined the office in 1974, became a principal in 1981 and president in 1986. In that year they hired a management consultant who analyzed their operations and made recommendations which immediately had a positive effect on office moral and efficiency. Steady growth since then has increased the staff to its present level of eighty-eight people, the largest it has ever been. Kit is a gifted communicator with clients and staff and partners. He is a strong supporter and participant in the area of design. He has been the leader in the use of the computer as a project management tool, is very effective at job procurement, and has energy left over for piano lessons! We have design review meetings, and all the projects go through a screening process, which is sometimes very helpful. We all have something to do with it. Riess: Everyone is free to suggest changes? Ratcliff: Yes. We try to keep the same people together on each job. It is good for the people and good for the job. Riess: How do you form a team after you get a job? Ratcliff: Well, to begin with, each project needs a project architect and a project designer. First we would decide which principal would be in charge, and then together we would select a project architect and a project designer. Usually, these people would 210 go to the interview and, if successful, run the job. Right now a fellow named Crodd Chin generally leads our design team. He's a powerful designer, and he's been with us a long time. Structural, mechanical, and electrical consulting engineers would be selected and sometimes included in the interview team. Riess: So does the office end up being divided into chunks? Chin would be in one area, and all the people who would be working with him would be there, too? Ratcliff: Well, Chin has his desk where he does most of his work, and he is in constant contact with the other people on the project. Many things have to be done concurrently. You might say that the whole is made up of little chunks integrated together. All the disciplines have to be brought together- -design, estimating, scheduling, legal, structural, mechanical, electrical, architectural drawing, specifications, Job supervision, et cetera. One of the real problems in our office is how to integrate the little job with a big job. They both require principal involvement, but vastly different staff requirements. Management. Principal, and Partners Riess: Do you have someone who's in charge of management? Ratcliff: We haven't always, but we do now. Riess: In an earlier day, it would have been Murray Slama? Ratcliff: Well, Don Kasamoto did a lot of managing. Burns would have done some . Sy would have done some . I would have done some . We were not really good businesspeople until recently. Now we have a manager and computers and a good accounting department. We always had a bookkeeper, but we always seemed to find our problems after they had happened. Until the computer came along, we weren't really able to project things accurately. Riess: Do all architects operate somewhere between profit and disaster? Is this common? Ratcliff: Among the small firms I think it is fairly typical. A good businessperson would say, "Why don't you get a businessperson to figure this thing out for you, because then you'll know 211 Riess : Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: Riess: Ratcliff: where you are. You'll be able to project, and you'll be able to avoid this terrible, nervous tension that you have, wondering where you are." You have to be organized to run a big firm successfully. Until you get to be a sizable firm, I think you just can hardly afford to have that kind of management. At this point, I think the office does have that kind of management. They do know where they are, and they do project ahead. One of the reasons, I think, is because they've got everything computerized. They can get instant answers on just about everything, and so they do. Once a week they have a review, and they've streamlined the review and the kinds of records that are important to them, so they know now, or they can find out pretty easily, where they are on each project. Some of these are big things. There are huge payrolls involved, and if you can't really project, you could go into terrible trouble. But with the equipment, and with a trained group of people doing it, it works out. When do designers become partners? become partners? I mean, when do people When they're asked. When they demonstrate leadership ability and a deep interest in the firm. The last partner was Kit in 1981. People usually become senior associates before they become partners. The partners, or principals, are the owners of the company. The senior associates have very important responsibilities, but they don't actually own stock in the company. But it feels good to have more principals? top-heavy to have more principals? Or does it feel Well, it feels good to me. I think that they've got to be continually getting younger people involved in principal positions in leadership. I just think it's essential that they do. Burns is in his seventies and only on part-time now, and Sy and Don are in their sixties. Kit is forty-six and in his prime. They are all energetic and active, but time marches on, and the future is in the hands of the next generation. II Do you move people across in their mid-forties, say, from other firms, or do they tend always to come up from the bottom? I don't know how they're going to do that. They've been concerned about it. Personally, I think they could do either one. I think there are people in the firm who would make good 212 principals. And there are others. We all agree that it's important, and they are working on it. It is a longtime commitment and a critical decision. And it gives the person a recognized position of leadership when he or she speaks for the firm. Architecture Offices and Fledgling Architects Riess: After all of these years of the Ratcliff firm, taking so many people from UC's architecture school, you can see that they are getting a certain kind of education there. Is it what you need? Or is there something missing, or something changing? Can you say something about it? Ratcliff: Well, what you really want in a student is a person who is bright and talented. Experience comes later. We say that nobody who comes out of school knows enough to really be useful on a drafting board for a year. They have to learn this by doing it. Riess: Has that changed? People have been saying that for years. It's still the same? Ratcliff: I think so. There is some difference in schools. Cal Poly emphasizes practical knowledge more than most of the other schools, and it shows. But quickly it comes down to brains and talent and personality. Riess: The funny thing is that architecture teaching has been done by practicing architects. I mean, they come from their offices, and they teach, and they go back to work. Ratcliff: Still, these practicing architects are talking about theory, just as we are today. The projects they get in school don't get built. Most of the real life problems of cost and client and building codes are not there. The office building you design for an architect when you're a student is probably not going to be one you're going to want to work in after a few years. All of a sudden, you may discover that flexibility, the freedom to change, has a controlling importance, and so on. 213 Publishing and Promoting the Firm's Work Riess: How crucial are architectural publications to your success? Ratcliff: Well, 1 think that they're pretty important. I think that being published is an important thing to do, and certainly to get published through photography and through writing. This has been demonstrated by many architects. We just really haven't done enough of this, and I think it's been to our detriment that we haven't made more of an effort. Riess: Well, what constitutes an effort? You mean having someone in the firm who writes, or paying someone to write? Ratcliff: Yes, we should have had a PR person, I guess, early on. We have one now, and it's beginning to pay off. I remember when Worley Wong started, he said publishing is the only way to go. Everything he did was presented to some publisher, and he got a lot of stuff published. He's, I think, a very good designer, and did some beautiful stuff. He got a long way on publication, and I think a lot of people have done that. 1 knew this but somehow just decided not to spend a lot of effort doing it. Riess: Is publication generated from the firm rather than from the magazines? For instance, Betty [Elisabeth Kendall] Thompson was a local architectural editor--. Ratcliff: Yes, Betty Thompson was involved, and I knew Betty very well. The magazines are always looking, and the architects who prepare the material and make the effort are the ones that get published. Riess: Would Betty prod somebody to publish? Ratcliff: She would. If she saw a project she liked she might call a person up and suggest they might volunteer to send it to a publisher. I think she would do that. She was always looking for interesting things to publish. Riess: It sounds like you're saying that this is an area that you feel that you were remiss in. Ratcliff: It's an area in which we didn't really make very much effort, and we could have done much more than we did. It's better now. We have a promotion department that sees the advantages in that. 214 Riess: What would your father say about a promotion department? Ratcliff: I don't know how he did it, but he certainly got a lot of things published. He had some good articles written about himself and about his firm. We haven't had anybody come and offer to do that yet. Tradition and The Ratcliff Architects Riess: Speaking of your father, have you invoked him and quoted him over the last twenty years? Would you say that there's a guiding spirit? Ratcliff: Well, those who have been in the office a long time like to think there's a guiding spirit. They get sentimental about how long we've been in business. Some of the old tradition drawings are hanging on the walls down there. You perhaps saw them. People are impressed by the quality of the drawing seventy- five years ago. They're impressed by the detail and the craftsmanship. People don't have this experience in school now of studying all this wonderful detail of the Renaissance period. They see it, and they realize that here in this office it was done. I don't know what it does for them, except to give them a reference to another point in time. I like to think of that myself, although there was a time when I was very critical of it, when I first started. I thought my old man was doing things that we shouldn't be doing. He should be thinking more in the current idiom. But when I look back, I realize that that was the current idiom, somehow. I was just coming along. I was a Johnny- come -lately. Riess: When you talked earlier about a difficult situation with the other person you were working with on the county administration building, you said you decided ultimately to let it drop, with the sense that that's what your father would have done. Ratcliff: I think he would have said, "Focus on the future and don't pursue dead issues." I believe that, too. Riess: Has there been a way that you've communicated those principles to your firm? 215 Ratcliff: I have. I told the firm, all the time that I was running it, that that's the way we were going to function. It wasn't a matter of democratic decision. My theory has always been to spend time and energy on constructive things, and not on fights or getting the last ounce of blood in an argument. I think this is what makes life worth living. It's probably the reason I am an architect and not a lawyerno offense. Unless there is some issue that is so blatant and so awful that it needs to have some special treatment, I think what you do is don't concern yourself too deeply, just write it off. The problem is not with you, really, it's with someone else. Don't do business with people you can't trust. And remember, most problems are the result of poor communication. Transcriber: Noreen Yamada Final Typist: Noreen Yamada 216 TAPE GUIDE -- Robert Ratcliff Interview 1: April 12, 1989 tape 1, side A tape 1, side B tape 2, side A tape 2, side B Interview 2: April 19, 1989 tape 3, side A tape 3, side B tape 4, side A tape 4, side B Interview 3: May 10, 1989 tape 5, side A tape 5, side B tape 6, side A tape 6, side B Interview 4: May 16, 1989 tape 7, side A tape 7, side B tape 8, side A tape 8, side B Interview 5: June 7, 1989 tape 9, side A tape 9, side B tape 10, side A tape 10, side B Interview 6: tape 11 tape 11 tape 12 June 28 side A side B side A 1989 tape 12, side B 1 1 14 25 31 44 44 54 55 70 98 98 104 110 117 125 125 133 140 148 157 157 165 172 179 192 192 200 204 211 217 INDEX -- Ratcliff [Italics indicate Ratcliff buildings.] A. I. A., East Bay Chapter, 174, 175 Adams , George , 87 Adams, John, 7 Alameda County Administration Building, 188-192, 199 Alameda Naval Base, 114-117 Alexander, Chris, 162 Allen, Rex W. , 197, 198 Allen, Steve, 111 American Trust Co. Building, Berkeley, 72-74, 79 Anderson, Berrien, 12 Anderson, Beatrice Corona, 12 Anna Head School, 10, 11 Arnon, Daniel L. , 205 Bacon, Madi, 123, 124, 136 Bade, William Frederick, 29, 71 Baird, Barbara, 141, 143 Baker, William B. , 186 Bakewell, John, 51, 52 Baptist Divinity School, 135, 136, 140 Bense, Frederick, 90 Berkeley Aquatic Park Committee, 180, 181 Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, 176 Berkeley Ci f . Commons Club, 172 Berkeley city planning, 66, 67 Berkeley Community Chest, 159, 160, 163 Berkeley Council of Social Planning, 159-163 Berkeley Country Club, 63 Berkeley creeks, 66, 67 Berkeley master plan, 175-177 Berkeley Municipal League, 157- 159 Berkeley Permit Appeals Board, 166-168 Berkeley Rowing Club, 181 Berkeley school buildings, 38, 69 Berkeley Tennis Club, 1 Berkeley Waterfront Committee 177-180 Berkeley YMCA, 156, 164 Bernal, Joe, 157 Bernardi, Theodore, 108, 152 Berry, George, 167 Berryhill, Helen, 61 Billings, 53 Bolinas, CA 11 Bonestell, Chesley, 61 Born, Ernest, 142, 143 Boynton, Judd, 168-170 Boynton, Ray, 80 Breed House, Arthur Breed, 44 Brock, Charles, 142 Brown, Arthur, 51, 52 Bufano, Benjamin, 89, 90 Burnham, Daniel H. , 67, 167 Burns, Robert Edward, 203, 206 Cadwalader, Burns, 142, 144, 174, 175, 180, 187, 188, 208, 210, 211 Calder, Sterling, 89 Casebolt, Kirby and Loyse, 157, 169 Center for Independent Living, Berkeley, 167 Chaney, Ralph, 157 Chaplin, Charlie, 17 Cheney, C. H. , 38 Chermayeff, Serge, 109, 110 Chernin, Milton, 157 Chin, Crodd, 210, 212 218 Church, Thomas, 207 Clagett, Barry, 186 Clark, Lewis, 7 Colby, William, 29, 30 Commercial Club, Merchants Exchange, San Francisco, 53 Contini, 179, 180 contractors, 192-196 Cook, Lyle, 157 Cornish, Frank, 173 Cowan, Jeff, 174 Coxhead, Ernest, 38, 69 craftsmen, 57, 59 Cretien, Douglas, 84, 85 Cross, Laurance, 157-159 Crowle, Herb, 191, 199 Cummings, Earle, 98 Cunningham, Imogen, 113 Dailey, Gardner, 107, 108 Davidson, Mary B. , 151 Davis, Bill, 102, 164 deLappe, Russell, 189 DeMars, Vernon, 108, 109 DeMonte, Louis, 205 Deutsch, Monroe, 99-102 Dinwiddie Construction Company, 126 Dochterman, Cliff, 205 Donnelly, Ruth, 151, 152 Drake, Frank, 164, 165 Drum, John, 72 Dudman, Art, 42 Dutton, Charles Mallory, 61 Eaton, Dorothy, 171 Eckbo, Garrett, 180, 207 Eliel, Leonard, 65 Elks Club, Berkeley, 44 Esherick, Joe. 202 Fairbairn, Russ, 114-116, 119, 126 Femwald Hall, 125-131 Fidelity Savings and Loan Association, 20, 22, 53, 82, 131-133 Firehouse, The Alameda, Berkeley, 145-148 Giauque, William Francis, 64 Gideon, Dave, 187, 188 Gillis, Jim, 10, 14 Goodhue, Bertram, 49, 71, 72 Goodman, Michael, 42, 90, 91, 98, 101 Gordon, Margaret, 183 Gregg, John, 69, 70 Gropius, Walter, 100, 106, 137, 138, 197 Gruen, Victor, 178-180 Gutterson, Henry, 38, 48, 49, 61, 133 Harper, Mac, Ill- Harris, "Call me Joe," 157 Harris, Harwell Hamilton, 183 Harris, Joseph P. , 157 Hatfield, Margaret, 160 Havens, Weston [Havens Fountain, Berkeley], 182, 183 Hawaiian Raymond Turner Construction Co., 114-117 Hay, Richie, 186 Hayes, Kenneth and Peggy, 181 Haymond, Scott, 75, 76, 78, 111, 126, 127, 133ff, 142 Hays, W. C. , 98, 103 Helder, Ruby, 61 Hewitt, Miss, school, 65 Highland Hospital, Oakland, 197, 198 Hildebrand [Joel] family, 7, 17 Hill, Henry, 138 Hink, Lester, 28, 52, 165, 166 Hobart, Lewis P., 38, 51, 69 Hogan Brothers, Oakland, 58, 59 Holser, Cliff, 92 hospital work, 197, 198, 200, 201 Howard, John Galen, 28, 32, 33, 45, 51, 69, 76, 85, 86 Hurd, Lester, 42, 75, 111 Husain, Syed, 198, 209-211 Hutchinson, Lincoln and Jim, 31 Illinois Institute of Technology, 123 insurance, 199, 200 Inverness, CA, 6, 8 219 Jacobs, Alfred Henry, 34, 35, 45, 76 Jeans, Ray, 98 Jensen, Norm, 205 Johnson, Butch, 186 Johnson, Dick, 150 Johnson, Jim, 111 Johnson, Robert "Skinny," 185 Jory, Stafford, 42, 88, 100, 103 Jory, Arthur, 42 Kahn, Albert, 114 Kasamoto, Don, 209-211 Keeler, Charles, 74, 162 Kelham, George, 38 Kennedy, Van Dusen, 160 Kerr, Kay, 180 Kingman, Harry, 102, 164 Kirlein, Oliver, 7 Kliot, Jules, 145-148 Knights of the Round Table, Berkeley, 173, 174 Landon, John, 102 Lawrence, E. 0. , 127 Lawrence, Molly, 160 Lawton, Helena, 60 Leary, Mrs . , 63 LeConte, Little Joe, 31 Lin, T. Y. , 147, 170, 181 Loss ing, Tom, 124 Love 11, Hathaway, 75 MacFarlane, Donald, 169, 170 Marshall, Lucille, 156, 160 Marston, Mr. , 71 Maschio, stonemason, 57, 61, 62 Maslach, George and Doris, 171 Masten, Charles, 42, 75, 111 Mas ten and Kurd, 42, 75, 109- 112, 133 Maybeck, Edward, 39, 41, 47, 48, 68 Mayhew, Clarence, 108, 109 McCaffrey, Stanley, 205 McDuffie, Duncan, 5, 52, 61, 62, 66 McFarland, Louis, 20, 22, 35, 53 McHenry, Dean, 206, 207 McLaughlin, Sylvia, 180 McNary, Bob, 160 McSweeney, Ward, 140 Mendocino County, Point Arena, 79-82 Wills College, 49, 78, 79, 134, 202 Moise, Howard, 101 Holler, Chet, 146, 147 Moore, Stanley, 99 Morgan, Julia, 32, 33, 48, 69, 86 Moss, Mr. and Mrs., Mosswood Park, 9, 10 Muir, John, 29, 30 Murphrey, Cece, 192, 193 music, 60-62. See Madi Bacon Nahl, Charles Christian, 88 Nahl, Perham, 87, 88 Neuhaus , Eugen, 31 Neutra, Richard, 138 Nickerson House, Berkeley, 5, 55 Nilsson, Einer, 7 North, Morgan, 86 Norton, William, 128 O'Neill, Burt, 80 O'Neill, Edmond, 22 Olmsted, Frederick Law, 47, 71, 72 Olsen, Don, 138 1MEN9.04, 184-186 Pacific School of Religion, ' Berkeley, 40, 79, 135, 140-143 Paine, Mary Trueblood, 94, 96, 124 Paine, Robert T. , 86, 89, 94, 95, 105 Panoramic Hill Improvement Association, Berkeley, 168-172 Parsons, Marion, 30 Partridge, Gryff, 92, 113 People for Open Space, 174 Perry, Warren, 85, 98, 100, 101 Plachek, James W. , 38 plaster, 46, 54-57 Polk, Willis, 68 Pollock, Ralph, 111 Poppic, Henry, 160 220 Porter, Bob, 163, 165 Public Works Administration, 111 Pursel, Kent, 188-190 Radston, Clifford, 52 Rasetto, Manual, 190 Ratcliff, Christopher Paine, 183, 186, 209, 211 Ratcliff, Evelyn Trueblood Paine, 86ffl25 Ratcliff, Howard, 32 Ratcliff, Margaret, 19 Ratcliff, Muriel, 2, 19 Ratcliff, Muriel Cora Williams, 2ff20, 60, 63 Ratcliff, Peter, 2ff20, 23, 26, 27 Ratcliff, Robert Williams. Interview Ratcliff, Walter, 19 Ratcliff, Walter Harris, Sr. , 12 19, 21, 22, 24 Ratcliff, Walter Harris, Jr, 1-83, 84ff Ratcliff, Haymond & Ratcliff, 78, 133-142 Ratcliff & Ratcliff, 140ffl87 Ratcliff, Slama, Cadwalader, 187ff. Ratcliff Architects, 205ff. Ratcliff, Mrs. Walter H. , Sr., 24 Raymond, Dana, 7, 99 Reber Plan, 177, 178 Reed, Walter, 38 Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 79, 134 Rickli, Ben, 165 Riggs, Roland, 103-106 Robinson, Bestor, 7 Roosevelt, Theodore, 25 Rotary Club, Berkeley, 173, 174 San Francisco Dredge Company, 116, 117 San Francisco Federal Savings and Loan, 133 Santa Fe Railroad, Berkeley real estate, 178, 179 Save the San Francisco Bay Association, 180 Schulze, Henry, 34, 35 Scott, Peter, 208, 209 Seabees, 117-122, 137 Shepard, William F. , 102, 184 Shreve, Claude, 119 Sibley, Carol, 164 Sibley, Robert, 125-128 Sierra Club, 29, 30 Sierra Ski Club, 31 skiing, Sugar Bowl, 1920s, 16, 17 Slama, Murray, 140, 143, 144, 174, 175, 187, 188, 195 Smeckens, Jan, 198 Smith, Curtis, Sr. , 128 Sorenson, contractor, 57, 64 Southern Pacific Railroad Station, Berkeley, 158 Spenger, Frank, 166 Sprague, Bessie, 85, 86 Sproul, Robert Gordon, 99, 100, 128 Steilberg, Walter, 59, 60, 86, 102, 113 Stevens, Harley, 99, 103 Stiles Hall, University YMCA, 102, 156, 164 Stolte Construction Company, 191-193 Sweeney, Lee, 190 Swift, Henry, 5, 17 Swift, Florence, 5, 80, 113 Tantau, Clarence, 107 Telesis, 112, 113 "The Group," Berkeley, 183, 184 Thomas, John Hudson, 50, 51, 69 Thompson, Hollis, 157 Thompson, Elisabeth Kendall, 213 Torossian, Aram, 87, 97, 98 Town and Gown Club, Berkeley, 172, 177 "Tumey Gulch Marching and Chowder Society," 184 Turner Construction Company, 114, 119 Twain, Mark, 10, 14 University of California, Berkeley 221 architectural work, remodeling, 151, 152, 205 campus growth, 175-177 Department of Architecture, 1930a, 84ffl02, 125 Femwald Hall, 126-131 Mining Building, 32, 33, 69 Order of the Golden Bear, 98-100 Physical Education, 83, 84 Speech Department, 84, 85 Stern Hall, 130 University of the Pacific, Stockton, 203-205 University of California, Santa Cruz, 206, 207 Van der Kar, Joseph, 108 Van Borg, Mitch, 189-191 Van Horn, R.O. , 93 Van Horn, Lucretia, 92 Van Borg & Nakamura, 188-191 Wagstaff, Jack, 92, 206 Warnecke, John Carl, 190 Wells Fargo Building, Berkeley. See American Trust Co. Building Williams, Cora Caduc , 9, 24 Williams, Harry, 9 Williams, Terissa Gillis, 9, 14, 24 Wills, Helen, 1 Wingate, Donald, 132 Winterberg, Robert, 204-206 Wong, Worley, 213 Wright, Frank Lloyd, 39, 41, 48, 100, 123, 137, 206 Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons . See William Wilson Wurster Wurster, William Wilson, 107, 108, 152, 207 Yuasa, Hachiro, 209 Zuckerman, Herb, 172 Suzanne Bassett Riess Grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Graduated from Goucher College, B.A. in English, 1957. Post-graduate work, University of London and the University of California, Berkeley, in English and history of art. Feature writing and assistant woman's page editor, Globe-Times . Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Free-lance writing and editing in Berkeley. Volunteer work on starting a new Berkeley newspaper . Natural science docent at the Oakland Museum. Editor in the Regional Oral History Office since I960, interviewing in the fields of art, cultural history, environmental design, photography, Berkeley and University history.